Some autistic kids may not find pleasure in human voices, according to a new brain-imaging study from Stanford University.

The research, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, might help explain why kids with autism have difficulty with the social and emotional aspects of human speech. “Weak brain connectivity may impede children with autism from experiencing speech as pleasurable,” said senior author Vinod Menon, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford and a member of the Child Health Research Institute at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.

“The human voice is a very important sound; it not only conveys meaning but also provides critical emotional information to a child,” explained leading author Daniel Abrams, PhD, a postdoctoral scholar in psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

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