Loading...

Study: Autism Linked with Different Reactions to Chemical Signals

Responses to compounds in human sweat may help explain why people with autism spectrum disorder tend to struggle with social cues.

By Shawna Williams | November 27, 2017

noseISTOCK, MRKORNFLAKESWhile humans aren’t as smell-dependent as many other animals, studies have shown we respond differently to others when they’re emitting certain olfactory signals—even if we can’t consciously detect them. In a study published today in Nature Neuroscience, researchers find that men with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) sometimes respond differently to these chemical cues in human sweat than do people without the disorder, indicating that such responses may partly explain the disorder’s symptoms.

In one experiment, the researchers asked 20 men with ASD and 20 typical men to perform cognitive tasks while they smelled either pads with sweat from skydivers (which contained high levels of cortisol, indicating fearfulness), or pads with no sweat. Just a few participants in each group reported being able to consciously detect scent from the sweat-infused pads, but the men in the non-ASD group showed an increase in electrodermal activity, a proxy for an aroused nervous system, while ASD participants did not.

To see what effect the smell of fear might have on behavior, the researchers rigged up two mannequins to “talk” and emit the odor of either fear-related sweat or workout sweat. Participants received clues from the mannequins on how to complete a task, and the researchers measured their performance on the task as a measure of trust. “[W]e observed a dissociation whereby [typically developed] participants had increased trust in the control-smell [mannequin], yet ASD participants had increased trust in the fear-smell [mannequin],” the study’s authors write.

The researchers also tested a molecule associated with decreased arousal in rodents, aliphatic aldehyde hexadecanal (HEX), and found that smelling it reduced how startled typical men were by a loud noise—but the compound had no such effect on the ASD participants.

People with ASD have been shown to misread non-odor-based types of social cues as well, the researchers note, so altered smell response alone—which they dub “social dysosmia”—cannot explain the disorder. But, they write, “we speculate that social dysosmia may underlie part of the impaired reading of emotional cues in ASD.”

Add a Comment

Avatar of: You

You

Processing...
Processing...

Sign In with your LabX Media Group Passport to leave a comment

Not a member? Register Now!

LabX Media Group Passport Logo

Comments

Avatar of: James V. Kohl

James V. Kohl

Posts: 516

November 28, 2017

See also: Olfaction Warps Visual Time Perception

If we keep training serious scientists in the United States but force them to return to their homeland to report new scientific truths, our Homeland Security will suffer from the ignorance of pseudoscientist who are still touting ridiculous claims about mutations and evolution.

See also: The vibrational theory of olfaction for the win

Compare the facts to this ridiculous representation of the virus-driven evolution of human heterosexual love: VIRUS EVOLUTION ( AMAZING DOCUMENTARY)

 

Avatar of: lisa nagy MD

lisa nagy MD

Posts: 2

November 29, 2017

As an environmental physician I can mention that in sweat there are many compemenets that the autisitc could be reacting to like chemicals, mold toxins etc other hormones. Are they comparing cortsiol only  or all components of sweat and thinking that the only difference is cortisol. were there control sweat that were not from sky divers? I assume so. Fascinating work though . bravo!!

Lisa

 

Avatar of: lisa nagy MD

lisa nagy MD

Posts: 2

November 29, 2017

As an environmental physician I can mention that in sweat there are many components  that the autisitc could be reacting to like chemicals, mold toxins etc, epinephrine - other hormones. Are they comparing cortsisol only  or all components of sweat and thinking that the only difference is cortisol. were there control sweat that were not from sky divers? I assume so. Fascinating work though . bravo!!

Lisa

 

Avatar of: Alexandru

Alexandru

Posts: 97

December 1, 2017

In my opinion, the autism is a mitochondrial disease.

Because mitochondria can not be treated with medication and are completely replaced at the artificial fertilization if the mother has mitochondrial disease

https://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/42043/title/UK-Supports-Three-Parent-IVF/,

I believe that autism can be treated by words of wisdom.

In other words psychology and contact with society are safe remedies for people with autism.

see

https://mitochondrialdiseasenews.com/2015/09/02/mitoaction-creates-back-to-schoolchecklist-for-parents-of-children-with-mitochondrial-disease/

Avatar of: Imperielle

Imperielle

Posts: 2

January 16, 2018

I find this interesting and plausible from personal experience. I'm just learning about the autism spectrum as my teenage son has difficulty with most social interactions and 'appears to be on the spectrum' (so a specialist has just told us). His father (who is often described as "a bit different" & accepts that he may be on the spectrum himself) has, amongst other things, a very poor sense of smell - he is often oblivious to smells that everyone else notices and reacts to such as strong body odour, gas, flowers, burning food and so on. Until this article, it had never occurred to me that there might be a connection. I will be following this story in future.

Avatar of: Imperielle

Imperielle

Posts: 2

Replied to a comment from Alexandru made on December 1, 2017

January 16, 2018

I thought mitochondria were inherited from the mother?

A psychologist whom we recently saw, told us that almost all the autism-spectrum children she sees have clearly inherited the condition from their father (she meets the parents too, obviously). In her 30+ years of experience it's rarely from the mother.

Popular Now

  1. Estonia Offers Free Genetic Testing to Residents
  2. Human Brain Organoids Thrive in Mouse Brains
  3. New Ovarian Cancer Vaccine Shows Promise
  4. The Second March for Science a Smaller Affair