Action Prediction Laboratory

Action Prediction Laboratory

Are those with autistic spectrum disorders able to anticipate other people’s action?

Autism is a developmental disorder that is characterised by repetitive interests and behaviours, language difficulties and impaired social skills. Furthermore, autism is a spectrum disorder, with varying levels of autistic traits being evident in many people in the general population.

Several lines of research have shown that autistic traits are associated with a reduced ability to understand the goals and intentions behind another person’s actions, and that these social deficits can be linked to atypical functioning of the Action Observation Network. Other research has suggested that those with a high degree of autistic traits are capable of inferring the mental states of other people, but do so using a process which is different to those with typical levels of autistic traits, thus compensating for an impaired Action Observation Network. Further theories suggest that the impaired social skills they exhibit may be due to a more generalised impairment in perception and attention that is not exclusive to the processing of just social stimuli.

Our aim is to investigate the nature of the action prediction abilities in those with autistic traits, and to establish if this is due to perceptual deficits specific to the processing of social stimuli, or if to a more general impairment in motion prediction.