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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Oct 21;111(42):15220-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1416797111. Epub 2014 Oct 6.

Autism as a disorder of prediction.

Author information

1
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139; heldd@neco.edu psinha@mit.edu.
2
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139; Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions, Boston, MA 02129; and.
3
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139; Department of Biomedical Engineering, Defense Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences, New Delhi, India DL 110054.
4
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139;

Abstract

A rich collection of empirical findings accumulated over the past three decades attests to the diversity of traits that constitute the autism phenotypes. It is unclear whether subsets of these traits share any underlying causality. This lack of a cohesive conceptualization of the disorder has complicated the search for broadly effective therapies, diagnostic markers, and neural/genetic correlates. In this paper, we describe how theoretical considerations and a review of empirical data lead to the hypothesis that some salient aspects of the autism phenotype may be manifestations of an underlying impairment in predictive abilities. With compromised prediction skills, an individual with autism inhabits a seemingly "magical" world wherein events occur unexpectedly and without cause. Immersion in such a capricious environment can prove overwhelming and compromise one's ability to effectively interact with it. If validated, this hypothesis has the potential of providing unifying insights into multiple aspects of autism, with attendant benefits for improving diagnosis and therapy.

KEYWORDS:

Markov models; endophenotype; heterogeneity; probabilistic processing; theory

PMID:
25288765
PMCID:
PMC4210351
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1416797111
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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