ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2021, Vol. 53 ›› Issue (6): 613-628.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2021.00613

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Abnormalities in pain sensitivity among individuals with autism spectrum disorder: Evidence from meta-analysis

ZHANG Wenyun, LI Xiaoyun, YAO Junjie, YE Qian, PENG Weiwei()   

  1. School of Psychology, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen 518060, China
  • Received:2020-09-21 Published:2021-06-25 Online:2021-04-29
  • Contact: PENG Weiwei
  • Supported by:
    This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China(31871127);the Features Innovative Projects of Guangdong Province Ordinary University(2019KTSCX149);the Shenzhen Basic Research Project(JCYJ201908108154413592)


A meta-analysis was conducted to assess the abnormalities of pain sensitivity among individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which were characterized as pain threshold, pain-evoked physiological responses, and pain intensity ratings. This understanding has the potential to provide evidence-based guidelines for early diagnosis and intervention of ASD. Sixteen experimental studies were included in the meta-analysis, with a total sample size of N = 822. Pain thresholds were not significantly different between ASD and control groups, but this estimate was moderated by the variable of pain modality, such that individuals with ASD exhibited lower pressure pain thresholds than the controls. Pain-evoked physiological responses were significantly greater among individuals with ASD than the controls, but pain intensity ratings were comparable between ASD and control groups. Future studies should combine multi-modal painful stimulations and multi-dimensional measures to comprehensively investigate the pain sensitivity profiles for individuals with ASD and establish the link between their pain sensitivity and clinical core symptoms.

Key words: autism spectrum disorder, pain sensitivity, meta-analysis, pain threshold, pain-evoked physiological responses