skip to main content

Title: Perceptual inference is impaired in individuals with ASD and intact in individuals who have lost the autism diagnosis
Abstract Beyond the symptoms which characterize their diagnoses, individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) show enhanced performance in simple perceptual discrimination tasks. Often attributed to superior sensory sensitivities, enhanced performance may also reflect a weaker bias towards previously perceived stimuli. This study probes perceptual inference in a group of individuals who have lost the autism diagnosis (LAD); that is, they were diagnosed with ASD in early childhood but have no current ASD symptoms. Groups of LAD, current ASD, and typically developing (TD) participants completed an auditory discrimination task. Individuals with TD showed a bias towards previously perceived stimuli—a perceptual process called “contraction bias”; that is, their representation of a given tone was contracted towards the preceding trial stimulus in a manner that is Bayesian optimal. Similarly, individuals in the LAD group showed a contraction bias. In contrast, individuals with current ASD showed a weaker contraction bias, suggesting reduced perceptual inferencing. These findings suggest that changes that characterize LAD extend beyond the social and communicative symptoms of ASD, impacting perceptual domains. Measuring perceptual processing earlier in development in ASD will tap the causality between changes in perceptual and symptomatological domains. Further, the characterization of perceptual inference could reveal meaningful individual differences more » in complex high-level behaviors. « less
Authors:
;
Award ID(s):
1735225
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10280954
Journal Name:
Scientific Reports
Volume:
10
Issue:
1
ISSN:
2045-2322
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental syndrome characterized by impairments in social perception and communication. Growing evidence suggests that the relationship between deficits in social perception and ASD may extend into the neurotypical population. In electroencephalography (EEG), high autism-spectrum traits in both ASD and neurotypical samples are associated with changes to the mu rhythm, an alpha-band (8–12 Hz) oscillation measured over sensorimotor cortex which typically shows reductions in spectral power during both one’s own movements and observation of others’ actions. This mu suppression is thought to reflect integration of perceptual and motor representations for understanding of others’ mental states, which may be disrupted in individuals with autism-spectrum traits. However, because spectral power is usually quantified at the group level, it has limited usefulness for characterizing individual variation in the mu rhythm, particularly with respect to autism-spectrum traits. Instead, individual peak frequency may provide a better measure of mu rhythm variability across participants. Previous developmental studies have linked ASD to slowing of individual peak frequency in the alpha band, or peak alpha frequency (PAF), predominantly associated with selective attention. Yet individual variability in the peak mu frequency (PMF) remains largely unexplored, particularly with respect to autism-spectrum traits. Here we quantifiedmore »peak frequency of occipitoparietal alpha and sensorimotor mu rhythms across neurotypical individuals as a function of autism-spectrum traits. High-density 128-channel EEG data were collected from 60 participants while they completed two tasks previously reported to reliably index the sensorimotor mu rhythm: motor execution (bimanual finger tapping) and action observation (viewing of whole-body human movements). We found that individual measurement in the peak oscillatory frequency of the mu rhythm was highly reliable within participants, was not driven by resting vs. task states, and showed good correlation across action execution and observation tasks. Within our neurotypical sample, higher autism-spectrum traits were associated with slowing of the PMF, as predicted. This effect was not likely explained by volume conduction of the occipitoparietal PAF associated with attention. Together, these data support individual peak oscillatory alpha-band frequency as a correlate of autism-spectrum traits, warranting further research with larger samples and clinical populations.« less
  2. Abstract Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is often accompanied by impaired emotion regulation (ER). There has been increasing emphasis on developing evidence-based approaches to improve ER in ASD. Electroencephalography (EEG) has shown success in reducing ASD symptoms when used in neurofeedback-based interventions. Also, certain EEG components are associated with ER. Our overarching goal is to develop a technology that will use EEG to monitor real-time changes in ER and perform intervention based on these changes. As a first step, an EEG-based brain computer interface that is based on an Affective Posner task was developed to identify patterns associated with ER on a single trial basis, and EEG data collected from 21 individuals with ASD. Accordingly, our aim in this study is to investigate EEG features that could differentiate between distress and non-distress conditions. Specifically, we investigate if the EEG time-locked to the visual feedback presentation could be used to classify between WIN (non-distress) and LOSE (distress) conditions in a game with deception. Results showed that the extracted EEG features could differentiate between WIN and LOSE conditions (average accuracy of 81%), LOSE and rest-EEG conditions (average accuracy 94.8%), and WIN and rest-EEG conditions (average accuracy 94.9%).
  3. Abstract

    Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their first-degree relatives demonstrate automaticity deficits reflected in reduced eye-voice coordination during rapid automatized naming (RAN), suggesting that RAN deficits may be a genetically meaningful marker of ASD language-related impairments. This study investigated whether RAN deficits in ASD extend to a language typologically distinct from English. Participants included 23 Cantonese-speaking individuals with ASD and 39 controls from Hong Kong (HK), and age- and IQ-comparable groups of previously-studied English-speaking individuals with ASD (n = 45) and controls (n = 44) from the US. Participants completed RAN on an eye tracker. Analyses examined naming time, error rate, measures of eye movement reflecting language automaticity, including eye-voice span (EVS; location of eyes versus the named item) and refixations. The HK-ASD group exhibited longer naming times and more refixations than HK-Controls, in a pattern similar to that observed in the US-ASD group. Cultural effects revealed that both HK groups showed longer EVS and more fixations than US groups. Naming time and refixation differences may be ASD-specific impairments spanning cultures/languages, whereas EVS and fixation frequency may be more variably impacted. A potential underlying mechanism of visual “stickiness” may be contributing to this breakdown in language automaticity in ASD.

  4. Impairments related to figurative language understanding have been considered to be one of the diagnostic and defining features of autism. Metaphor comprehension and production in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as compared to typically developing (TD) individuals have been investigated for around thirty years, generally showing an overall advantage for TD groups. We present a preregistered systematic review and meta-analysis including a total of 15 studies that fulfilled our set of inclusion criteria (notably, ASD and TD groups matched in chronological age and verbal- or full-scale IQ). Along with accuracy, we also analyzed group differences in reaction time in the studies that reported them. The results revealed a medium-to-large group difference favoring TD over ASD groups based on accuracy measures, as well as a similar overall advantage for TD groups based on reaction times. There was reliable heterogeneity in effect sizes for group differences in accuracy, which was mostly explained by the effect of verbal intelligence, with differences in metaphor processing being smaller for participants with better verbal skills. Some of the variation in effect sizes may also be attributed to differences in types of metaphor processing tasks. We also evaluated the quality of the studies included in the meta-analysis, andmore »the evidence relating to the potential presence of publication bias.« less
  5. Abstract

    Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. Recently, gut dysbiosis has emerged as a powerful contributor to ASD symptoms. In this study, we recruited over 100 age-matched sibling pairs (between 2 and 8 years old) where one had an Autism ASD diagnosis and the other was developing typically (TD) (432 samples total). We collected stool samples over four weeks, tracked over 100 lifestyle and dietary variables, and surveyed behavior measures related to ASD symptoms. We identified 117 amplicon sequencing variants (ASVs) that were significantly different in abundance between sibling pairs across all three timepoints, 11 of which were supported by at least two contrast methods. We additionally identified dietary and lifestyle variables that differ significantly between cohorts, and further linked those variables to the ASVs they statistically relate to. Overall, dietary and lifestyle features were explanatory of ASD phenotype using logistic regression, however, global compositional microbiome features were not. Leveraging our longitudinal behavior questionnaires, we additionally identified 11 ASVs associated with changes in reported anxiety over time within and across all individuals. Lastly, we find that overall microbiome composition (beta-diversity) is associated with specific ASD-related behavioral characteristics.