How does the short-circuiting of sensory impulses affect memory and intentional behavior in autism?
Brain function is hierarchically organized. Sensorimotor activities are carried out by individual neurons in networks, whereas perceptual insights leading to intentional behavior are organized by large masses of neurons. The association nuclei in the limbic system are the highest echelon in the information processing hierarchy. If sensory impulses are somehow impeded from reaching these final organizational nuclei, or if there are too few nuclei to do the job, the meaning of sensations or perceptions would be skewed or incomplete — as they are in autism. And if perceptions are “off,” than responses to those perceptions–in the form of actions, emotions or behavior — are bound to be “off.” If memories are formed by a strengthening of the synaptic connections between neurons that are activated in specific patterns as a result of learning and experience, it follows that any problem with neuronal or synaptic dynamics would cause a problem with remembering or with relating new information