Internal noise estimates correlate with autistic traits

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JournalAutism Research
DateAccepted/In press - 24 Feb 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print - 17 Apr 2017
DatePublished (current) - 23 Aug 2017
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)1384-1391
Early online date17/04/17
Original languageEnglish


Previous neuroimaging research has reported increased internal (neural) noise in sensory systems of autistic individuals. However, it is unclear if this difference has behavioural or perceptual consequences, as previous attempts at measuring internal noise in ASD psychophysically have been indirect. Here we use a ‘gold standard’ psychophysical double-pass paradigm to investigate the relationship between internal noise and autistic traits in the neurotypical population (n=43). We measured internal noise in three tasks (contrast perception, facial expression intensity perception and number summation) to estimate a global internal noise factor using principal components analysis. This global internal noise was positively correlated with autistic traits (rs=0.32, p=0.035). This suggests that increased internal noise is associated with the ASD phenotype even in subclinical populations. The finding is discussed in relation to the neural and genetic basis of internal noise in ASD.

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    Research areas

  • internal noise, neural noise, double-pass, sensory, autism quotient, decision making

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