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The role of GABAergic signalling in altered sensory processing in ASD

Roig Kuhn, Femke (2018) The role of GABAergic signalling in altered sensory processing in ASD. Bachelor's Thesis, Biology.


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Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the adult mammalian brain. The GABAergic system is important for the formation of functional neural networks during development, and is essential in the maintenance of the excitation/inhibition balance, which is crucial for adequate sensory processing. There have been many reports of altered GABA parameters in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), leading to the hypothesis of an excitation/inhibition imbalance as causation of this neurodevelopmental disorder. This altered GABAergic transmission in ASD has been found to be associated to sensory processing abnormalities in the visual, tactile and auditory domains. There are indications that altered sensory processing and abnormalities of the GABAergic system may be involved in the development of the other core domains of ASD: repetitive behaviour and socio-communicative deficits. Nevertheless, the literature shows mixed results regarding the GABAergic system, with some studies showing a decreased GABAergic function while others have found an increased GABA-mediated inhibition. The fact that ASD is a heterogeneous condition, which comprises a wide spectrum of symptomatology, may be a reason for the disparity of the results. However, the combined findings show an abnormal GABAergic inhibition in sensory processing present in ASD, supporting the excitation/inhibition imbalance hypothesis of ASD.

Item Type: Thesis (Bachelor's Thesis)
Supervisor name: Kas, M.J.H.
Degree programme: Biology
Thesis type: Bachelor's Thesis
Language: English
Date Deposited: 10 Jul 2018
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2018 14:23

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