Poster Session
Issue Date: August 2016
Published Online: August 01, 2016
Updated: January 01, 2021
Perception of Aversive Sound Stimuli in Adults With Sensory Overresponsivity
Author Affiliations
  • Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Article Information
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder / Basic Research
Poster Session   |   August 01, 2016
Perception of Aversive Sound Stimuli in Adults With Sensory Overresponsivity
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011505141.
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011505141.

Date Presented 4/8/2016

This study compares perceived aversiveness to sound stimuli in adults with sensory overresponsivity (SOR) with those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and controls. Aversive sounds per se do not differentiate between persons with and without SOR. These findings are important to research in the field of sensory modulation.

Primary Author and Speaker: Tal Mazor-Karsenty

Contributing Authors: L. Shalev, S. Parush

PURPOSE: The goals of this study were (1) to examine levels of aversiveness to sound stimulations in participants with SMD (sensory modulation disorder)–sensory overresponsivity (SOR) and whether these levels were different than the levels for participants with attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) and typical controls and (2) to evaluate the effects of SMD and ADHD on the correlation between perceived aversiveness and sound intensity.
BACKGROUND: Adults who are overresponsive to sensory stimuli, especially overresponsiveness in the somatosensory and auditory systems, frequently describe their daily life as irritating, overwhelming, disorganizing, and distracting.
DESIGN: Descriptive, comparative, correlational study, using a 2 × 2 factorial design to separate the SMD factor from the ADHD one.
PARTICIPANTS: Participants were 66 young adult women, mostly university students, in four groups: 20 with SMD without ADHD; 20 with ADHD and SMD; 6 with ADHD without SMD; and 20 controls. Mean age was 25.03 yr (standard deviation = 3.47). The diagnosis of SMD was made using the Sensory Responsiveness Questionnaire, and ADHD was diagnosed by a qualified psychiatrist or neurologist using Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.; American Psychiatric Association, 1994) criteria.
METHOD: Battery of Aversiveness to Sounds (BAS); Ten sound presentations of 30-s duration each, standardized for this study. Sounds were recorded using waveform audio file format and programmed into a p file. The sounds in the BAS are dish (eating utensils scratching dish), apple eating, ocean waves, rain, clock ticking, high-pitched tone, water drops, alarm, machinery, and birds chirping. All sounds were presented binaurally in pseudorandom order via Koss TD-80 headphones with an intensity range of approximately 55–80 dB SPL. Participants rated verbally each sound stimulus according to its relative sensation of unpleasantness (level of aversiveness) on a visual analogue scale of 0–10, with 0 representing no unpleasant sensation and 10 the most unpleasant sensation imaginable.
ANALYSIS: Analyses were performed using 2 × 2 (ADHD × SMD) multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) and a Pearson correlation.
RESULTS: To examine whether there were differences between groups in relation to level of aversiveness to each of the 10 sounds, a 2 × 2 (SMD × ADHD) MANOVA was carried out. MANOVA results showed no significant difference (between the research groups) for SMD, F(10, 53) = 1.144, p > .05; for ADHD, F(10, 53) = 1.106, p > .05; and no interaction effect, F(10, 53) = 0.973, p > .05. Pearson correlation examined correlation between participants’ BAS scores and the intensity of each sound. Results showed no significant correlation between the dB for each sound and the mean aversive score (across all groups). Further Pearson correlation tests between the dB for each sound and each of the four groups retrieved no significant correlations.
DISCUSSION: Interestingly, the presence of SMD–SOR was not a contributing factor differentiating adults with and without SOR or those with and without ADHD. Results will be discussed in light of previous research indicating that the SMD factor is a restricting one only when aversive stimuli are combined with a demanding cognitive task.
IMPACT STATEMENT: Although individuals with SOR are generally described as feeling sensations too intensely and for a longer duration than is typical, an objective measure of perceived aversiveness to sounds did not portray a difference between adults with SOR and controls.
American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.