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Autism. 2015 Apr;19(3):301-7. doi: 10.1177/1362361313519872. Epub 2014 Feb 12.

Perceptual inference and autistic traits.

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Aarhus University, Denmark; Aarhus University Hospitals, Denmark
Aarhus University, Denmark; Aarhus University Hospitals, Denmark.


Autistic people are better at perceiving details. Major theories explain this in terms of bottom-up sensory mechanisms or in terms of top-down cognitive biases. Recently, it has become possible to link these theories within a common framework. This framework assumes that perception is implicit neural inference, combining sensory evidence with prior perceptual knowledge. Within this framework, perceptual differences may occur because of enhanced precision in how sensory evidence is represented or because sensory evidence is weighted much higher than prior perceptual knowledge. In this preliminary study, we compared these models using groups with high and low autistic trait scores (Autism-Spectrum Quotient). We found evidence supporting the cognitive bias model and no evidence for the enhanced sensory precision model.


autism spectrum disorder; perceptual enhancements; perceptual inference; signal detection theory; weak priors

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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