October 24, 2020

Low-level, prediction-based sensory and motor processesare unimpaired in Autism

A new promising account of human brain function suggests that sensory cortices try to optimise information processing via predictions that are based on prior experiences. The brain is thus likened to a probabilistic prediction machine. There has been a growing – though inconsistent – literature to suggest that features of autism spectrum conditions (ASCs) are associated with a deficit in modelling the world through such prediction-based inference. However empirical evidence for differences in low-level sensorimotor predictions in autism is still lacking. One approach to examining predictive processing in the sensorimotor domain is in the context of self-generated (predictable) as opposed to externally-generated (less predictable) effects. We employed two complementary tasks – forcematching and intentional binding – which examine self- versus externally-generated action effects in terms of sensory attenuation and attentional binding respectively in adults with and without autism. The results show that autism was associated with normal levels of sensory attenuation of internally-generated force and with unaltered temporal attraction of voluntary actions and their outcomes. Thus, our results do not support a general deficit in predictive processing in autism.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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