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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Jun 23;112(25):7868-72. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1504099112. Epub 2015 Jun 8.

Children with autism spectrum disorder show reduced adaptation to number.

Author information

1
Department of Translational Research on New Technologies in Medicine and Surgery, University of Pisa, 56126 Pisa, Italy; Department of Neuroscience, Psychology, Pharmacology, and Child Health, University of Florence, 50139 Florence, Italy;
2
Department of Neuroscience, Psychology, Pharmacology, and Child Health, University of Florence, 50139 Florence, Italy; School of Psychology, University of Western Australia, Perth, 6009, Australia;
3
Department of Developmental Neuroscience, The Scientific Recovery and Care Scientific Institute Stella Maris Foundation, University of Pisa, 56128 Pisa, Italy;
4
Department of Psychology, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, 80802 Munich, Germany;
5
Department of Developmental Neuroscience, The Scientific Recovery and Care Scientific Institute Stella Maris Foundation, University of Pisa, 56128 Pisa, Italy; Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Pisa, 56126 Pisa, Italy;
6
School of Psychology, University of Western Australia, Perth, 6009, Australia; Centre for Research in Autism and Education, Department of Psychology and Human Development, University College London Institute of Education, University College London, London WC1H 0NU, United Kingdom l.pellicano@ioe.ac.uk.

Abstract

Autism is known to be associated with major perceptual atypicalities. We have recently proposed a general model to account for these atypicalities in Bayesian terms, suggesting that autistic individuals underuse predictive information or priors. We tested this idea by measuring adaptation to numerosity stimuli in children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). After exposure to large numbers of items, stimuli with fewer items appear to be less numerous (and vice versa). We found that children with ASD adapted much less to numerosity than typically developing children, although their precision for numerosity discrimination was similar to that of the typical group. This result reinforces recent findings showing reduced adaptation to facial identity in ASD and goes on to show that reduced adaptation is not unique to faces (social stimuli with special significance in autism), but occurs more generally, for both parietal and temporal functions, probably reflecting inefficiencies in the adaptive interpretation of sensory signals. These results provide strong support for the Bayesian theories of autism.

KEYWORDS:

Bayesian; adaptation; autism; number; prediction

PMID:
26056294
PMCID:
PMC4485114
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1504099112
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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