Why do some autistic children strongly react to noise?

Austin Miller, who has Asperger's syndrome, is seen during a story broadcast on the "CBS Evening News" Jan. 14, 2014. CBS

CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook and CBS News contributor Dr. Holly Phillips joined "CBS This Morning: Saturday" to discuss the major medical stories of the week.

A new study is shedding light on one of the key mysteries of autism - why some children with the disorder have extreme reactions to noise. Researchers have long known that kids with autism struggle with communication, but, for the first time, scientists at Vanderbilt University have shown one reason why.

The research shows that, while most people see others talking in sync, for many kids with autism there’s a delay between what they see and what they hear, causing them to see speech out of sync.

LaPook spoke to one of the researchers at Vanderbilt, who said that more than 90 percent of children with autism have some sort of “auditory processing delay.” He explained that they are coming up with many ways to help these kids cope.

“What they’re doing now is they’ve come up with these video games and other ways of trying to accelerate ... the auditory processing so that it gets in sync - it’s not out of sync like a badly dubbed movie,” said LaPook. “I love this because they’re finally getting down to the brain wiring and figuring out how can we actually figure out what’s wrong and how to maybe kind of fix it.”

Also this week, if you're one of the millions of Americans who drink diet soda thinking it will help you lose weight, it might be time to think again. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that overweight adults who drink diet soda may actually end up eating more than adults who drink soda with sugar in it.

“This is such interesting research," said Phillips. "They looked at a huge group of people over 10 years, and they found that, for people who were overweight and obese, those who drank diet soda on a daily basis actually ate more during the day than people who drank the regular sugared kind. So even though they were saving a few calories with their liquid-calorie intake, they actually more than made up for it with what they ate during the day.”

However, she said that this study only showed a link – it was not cause and effect – between drinking diet soda and eating more food.

“The researchers think there really might be something to that,” said Phillips. “Whether it’s the artificial sweeteners that sort of throw off the body’s ability to know whether it’s hungry or full or just a psychological effect, basically if you think you’re saving calories in one area, you’re more likely to splurge in another.”

For Dr. Jon LaPook and Dr. Holly Phillips' full roundup on this week's medical stories, watch the video in the player above.

Check out more from Morning Rounds with Dr. LaPook

  • Shoshana Davis

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