Oscillatory entrainment mechanisms and anticipatory predictive processes in children with autism spectrum disorder

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7 Scopus citations


Anticipating near-future events is fundamental to adaptive behavior, whereby neural processing of predictable stimuli is significantly facilitated relative to nonpredictable events. Neural oscillations appear to be a key anticipatory mechanism by which processing of upcoming stimuli is modified, and they often entrain to rhythmic environmental sequences. Clinical and anecdotal observations have led to the hypothesis that people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may have deficits in generating predictions, and as such, a candidate neural mechanism may be failure to adequately entrain neural activity to repetitive environmental patterns, to facilitate temporal predictions. We tested this hypothesis by interrogating temporal predictions and rhythmic entrainment using behavioral and electrophysiological approaches. We recorded high-density electroencephalography in children with ASD and typically developing (TD) age- and IQ-matched controls, while they reacted to an auditory target as quickly as possible. This auditory event was either preceded by predictive rhythmic visual cues or was not preceded by any cue. Both ASD and control groups presented comparable behavioral facilitation in response to the Cue versus No-Cue condition, challenging the hypothesis that children with ASD have deficits in generating temporal predictions. Analyses of the electrophysiological data, in contrast, revealed significantly reduced neural entrainment to the visual cues and altered anticipatory processes in the ASD group. This was the case despite intact stimulus-evoked visual responses. These results support intact behavioral temporal prediction in response to a cue in ASD, in the face of altered neural entrainment and anticipatory processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1783-1798
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology


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