A2 Review article, Literature review, Systematic review
Coactivation of Autonomic and Central Nervous Systems During Processing of Socially Relevant Information in Autism Spectrum Disorder : A Systematic Review (2024)

Karjalainen, S., Aro, T., & Parviainen, T. (2024). Coactivation of Autonomic and Central Nervous Systems During Processing of Socially Relevant Information in Autism Spectrum Disorder : A Systematic Review. Neuropsychology Review, 34(1), 214-231. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11065-023-09579-2

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editorsKarjalainen, Suvi; Aro, Tuija; Parviainen, Tiina

Journal or seriesNeuropsychology Review



Publication year2024

Publication date27/02/2023


Issue number1

Pages range214-231

PublisherPlenum Press

Publication countryUnited States

Publication languageEnglish


Publication open accessOpenly available

Publication channel open accessPartially open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX)https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/85785


Body-brain interaction provides a novel approach to understand neurodevelopmental conditions such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In this systematic review, we analyse the empirical evidence regarding coexisting differences in autonomic (ANS) and central nervous system (CNS) responses to social stimuli between individuals with ASD and typically developing individuals. Moreover, we review evidence of deviations in body-brain interaction during processing of socially relevant information in ASD. We conducted systematic literature searches in PubMed, Medline, PsychInfo, PsychArticles, and Cinahl databases (until 12.1.2022). Studies were included if individuals with ASD were compared with typically developing individuals, study design included processing of social information, and ANS and CNS activity were measured simultaneously. Out of 1892 studies identified based on the titles and abstracts, only six fulfilled the eligibility criteria to be included in synthesis. The quality of these studies was assessed using a quality assessment checklist. The results indicated that individuals with ASD demonstrate atypicalities in ANS and CNS signalling which, however, are context dependent. There were also indications for altered contribution of ANS-CNS interaction in processing of social information in ASD. However, the findings must be considered in the context of several limitations, such as small sample sizes and high variability in (neuro)physiological measures. Indeed, the methodological choices varied considerably, calling for a need for unified guidelines to improve the interpretability of results. We summarize the current experimentally supported understanding of the role of socially relevant body-brain interaction in ASD. Furthermore, we propose developments for future studies to improve incremental knowledge building across studies of ANS-CNS interaction involving individuals with ASD.

Keywordsautism spectrum disordersautonomic nervous systemcentral nervous systemsocial interactionsystematic reviews

Free keywordsautism spectrum disorder; autonomic nervous system; central nervous system; body-brain interaction; social information processing

Contributing organizations

Related projects

Ministry reportingYes

Reporting Year2023

Preliminary JUFO rating2

Last updated on 2024-26-03 at 20:56