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ISSN 1805-7225





a Bujnakova Iveta, b Ondrejka Igor, a Mestanik Michal, a Tonhajzerova Ingrid
aDepartment of Physiology and Martin Centre for Biomedicine BioMed, Jessenius Faculty of Medicine in Martin, Comenius University in Bratislava, Martin,  Slovak Republic
bPsychiatric Clinic, Jessenius Faculty of Medicine in Martin, Comenius University in Bratislava, University Hospital in Martin, Slovak Republic
Corresponding author: Ingrid Tonhajzerova, Assoc. Prof., MD. PhD.,


Background. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder of unknown etiology, defined by impaired social communication and interaction, and by the presence of restrictive and repetitive behaviour. The autonomic imbalance, in which one branch of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) dominates over the other, is associated with a lack of dynamic flexibility and adaptability. The aim of this article was to summarize the current state of knowledge regarding ANS activity in children with ASD.

Methods and Results. We have collected the latest information on autism and ANS regulation from available medical resources (PubMed). We focused on two main physiological parameters such as heart rate variability (HRV) and electrodermal activity (EDA) as the noninvasive indices of vagal and sympathetic activity, respectively. The studies showed atypical autonomic activity at rest as well as in response to stress.

Conclusion. ASD symptoms are associated with pervasive abnormalities in the central nervous system including structures and networks involved in the complex ANS regulation. Importantly, the autonomic imbalance in a manner of higher sympathetic activity associated with lower vagal activity is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular, and other adverse outcomes in ASD. Therefore, we suggest that detailed complex analysis of physiological parameters may illuminate the pathway linking ASD and autonomic nervous system activity.

Key words: autism spectrum disorder, autonomic nervous system, heart rate variability, cardiac vagal regulation, respiratory sinus arrhythmia, electrodermal activity


Volume 4 Issue 2/2015 Full text pdf

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