This study examined the cerebral functional lateralization, from a phonological perspective, in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and typically developing children (TDC). With near infrared spectroscopy, we measured auditory evoked-responses in the temporal areas to phonemic and prosodic contrasts in word contexts. The results of TDC showed stronger left-dominant and right-dominant responses to phonemic and prosodic differences, respectively. Furthermore, although ASD children displayed similar tendencies, the functional asymmetry for phonemic changes was relatively weak, suggesting less-specialized left-brain functions. The typical asymmetry for the prosodic condition was further discussed in terms of acoustic-physical perceptual ability of ASD children. The study revealed differential neural recruitment in decoding phonetic cues between ASD children and TDC and verified the applicability of near infrared spectroscopy as a suitable neuroimaging method for children with developmental disorders.
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