Physiological measurements, behavioral observations, and more

Physiological measurements, behavioral observations, and more

Monday, 9 January, 2012

Looking back on 2011 - behavioral and autism research in the picture

Top 10 Autism Speaks

Autism Speaks recently looked back on 2011 and named the top 10 autism research achievements of the year. Not only were a wide variety of topics in research achievements mentioned, but also achievements from all around the world attracted the attention of Autism Speaks science news. For further information, please read the article and the list at

A large number of other interesting studies in 2011

In addition to the top 10, there were a large number of other interesting studies in 2011.

One that should be highlighted in this behavioral research blog is Lima et al’s study that aimed to assess the behavioral and physiological responsiveness of three children with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities (PIMD) to a set of sensory stimuli.

It is fascinating to see how researchers continue to search for methods and techniques that will help in the future with the gathering of rich and meaningful data! When focusing on the findings of Lima et al. (2011), the title

Beyond Behavioral Observations

says it all. Lima et al. explored whether adding physiological measurements to behavioral observations would provide further insight in reactions from children with PIMD. 

Their results show that, although there sometimes is no observable reaction, this does not mean there is no reaction at all.

Combining physiological and behavioral measurements

The participants reacted physiologically to most of the presented stimuli. Consequently, these researchers advocate for combining of physiological and behavioral measurements in order to assess actual responsiveness. They argue that the value of the information obtained through this method (measuring physiological responses) and the undeniable implications for the emotional well-being of people with PIMD, are such that they fully justify going through the ‘trouble’ of setting up the hardware and software. Fortunately, these tools are becoming more and more user-friendly.

The Observer XT

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Lima et al. have used The Observer® XT to determine the frequency and duration of all the behaviors. This professional software can also be used to integrate and analyze different data streams, such as physiological data in relation to behavioral data, making data collection a manageable process.


  • Lima, M.; Silva, K.; Amaral, I.; Magalhaes, A.; Sousa, L. De (2011). Beyond behavioural observations: a deeper view through the sensory reactions of children with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities. Child: care, health, and development, doi:10.1111/j.1365-2214.2011.01334.x.