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Behavioral characterization of prediction and internal models in adolescents with autistic spectrum disorders

Abstract : Autism has been considered as a deficit in prediction of the upcoming event or of the sensory consequences of our own movements. To test this hypothesis, we recorded eye movements from high-functioning autistic adolescents and from age-matched controls during a blanking paradigm. In this paradigm, adolescents were instructed to follow a moving target with their eyes even during its transient disappearance. Given the absence of visual information during the blanking period, eye movements during this period are solely controlled on the basis of the prediction of the ongoing target motion. Typical markers of predictive eye movements such as the number and accuracy of predictive saccades and the predictive reacceleration before target reappearance were identical in the two populations. In addition, the synergy of predictive saccades and smooth pursuit observed during the blanking periods, which is a marker for the quality of internal models about target/eye motions, was comparable between these two populations. These results suggest that, in our large population of high-functioning autistic adolescent, both predictive abilities and internal models are left intact in Autism, at least for low-level sensorimotor transformations.
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Caroline Ego, Lucie Bonhomme, Jean-Jacques Orban de Xivry, David da Fonseca, Philippe Lefèvre, et al.. Behavioral characterization of prediction and internal models in adolescents with autistic spectrum disorders. Neuropsychologia, Elsevier, 2016, 91, pp.335-345. ⟨10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2016.08.021⟩. ⟨hal-02329779⟩

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