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Shi, Zhuanghua; Theisinger, Laura A.; Allenmark, Fredrik; Pistorius, Rasmus L.; Müller, Hermann J.; Falter-Wagner, Christine M. (2022): Predictive coding in ASD: inflexible weighting of prediction errors when switching from stable to volatile environments. bioRxiv
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Abstract

Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have been widely reported to show atypicalities in predictive coding, though there remains a controversy regarding what causes such atypical processing. Suggestions range from overestimation of volatility to rigidity in the reaction to environmental changes. Here, we tested two accounts directly using duration reproduction of volatile and non-volatile interval sequences. Critically, both sequences had the same set of intervals but differed in their stimulus presentation orders. Comparing individuals with ASD vs. their matched controls, we found both groups to respond to the volatility in a similar manner, albeit with a generally reduced prior in the ASD group. Interestingly, though, relative to the control group, the ASD group exhibited a markedly reduced trust in the prior in the volatile trial session when this was performed after the non-volatile session, while both groups performed comparably in the reverse session order. Our findings suggest that it is not the learning of environmental volatility that is compromised in ASD. Rather, it is their response to a change of the volatility regimen from stable to volatile, which causes a highly inflexible weighting of prediction errors.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.