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Low-level, prediction-based sensory and motor processes are unimpaired in autism

Finnemann, Johanna, Plaisted-Grant, Kate, Moore, James and Teufel, Christoph 2021. Low-level, prediction-based sensory and motor processes are unimpaired in autism. Neuropsychologia 156 , 107835.

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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 – force-matching 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.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC)
Additional Information: This is an open access article under the CC BY license (
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0028-3932
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 19 March 2021
Date of Acceptance: 19 March 2021
Last Modified: 10 May 2021 12:03

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