DOI: 10.1002/aur.3055 ISSN: 1939-3792

Auditory language comprehension among children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder: An ALE meta‐analysis of fMRI studies

Zihui Hua, Jun Hu, Huanke Zeng, Jiahui Li, Yibo Cao, Yiqun Gan
  • Genetics (clinical)
  • Neurology (clinical)
  • General Neuroscience


Difficulties in auditory language comprehension are common among children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. However, findings regarding the underlying neural mechanisms remain mixed, and few studies have systematically explored the overall patterns of these findings. Therefore, this study aims to systematically review and meta‐analyze the functional magnetic resonance imaging evidence of neural activation patterns while engaging in auditory language comprehension tasks among children and adolescents with autism. Using activation likelihood estimation, we conducted a series of meta‐analyses to investigate neural activation patterns during auditory language comprehension tasks compared to baseline conditions in autism and non‐autism groups and compared the activation patterns of the groups, respectively. Eight studies were included in the within‐group analyses, and seven were included in the between‐group analysis. The within‐group analyses revealed that the bilateral superior temporal gyrus was activated during auditory language comprehension tasks in both groups, whereas the left superior frontal gyrus and dorsal medial prefrontal cortex were activated only in the non‐autism group. Furthermore, the between‐group analysis showed that children and adolescents with autism, compared to those without autism, showed reduced activation in the right superior temporal gyrus, left middle temporal gyrus, and insula, whereas the autism group did not show increased activation in any of the regions relative to the non‐autism group. Overall, these findings contribute to our understanding of the potential neural mechanisms underlying difficulties in auditory language comprehension in children and adolescents with autism and provide practical implications for early screening and language‐related interventions for children and adolescents with autism.

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