Electrophysiological alterations in motor‐auditory predictive coding in autism spectrum disorder

Thijs van Laarhoven*, Jeroen Stekelenburg, M. Eussen, Jean Vroomen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
129 Downloads (Pure)


The amplitude of the auditory N1 component of the event‐related potential (ERP) is typically attenuated for self‐initiated sounds, compared to sounds with identical acoustic and temporal features that are triggered externally. This effect has been ascribed to internal forward models predicting the sensory consequences of one's own motor actions. The predictive coding account of autistic symptomatology states that individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have difficulties anticipating upcoming sensory stimulation due to a decreased ability to infer the probabilistic structure of their environment. Without precise internal forward prediction models to rely on, perception in ASD could be less affected by prior expectations and more driven by sensory input. Following this reasoning, one would expect diminished attenuation of the auditory N1 due to self‐initiation in individuals with ASD. Here, we tested this hypothesis by comparing the neural response to self‐ versus externally‐initiated tones between a group of individuals with ASD and a group of age matched neurotypical controls. ERPs evoked by tones initiated via button‐presses were compared with ERPs evoked by the same tones replayed at identical pace. Significant N1 attenuation effects were only found in the TD group. Self‐initiation of the tones did not attenuate the auditory N1 in the ASD group, indicating that they may be unable to anticipate the auditory sensory consequences of their own motor actions. These results show that individuals with ASD have alterations in sensory attenuation of self‐initiated sounds, and support the notion of impaired predictive coding as a core deficit underlying autistic symptomatology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-599
JournalAutism Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • autism spectrum disorder
  • ERPs
  • motor-auditory
  • predictive coding
  • TIME


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