Many studies report atypical responses to sensory information in autistic individuals, yet it is not clear which stages of processing are affected, with little consideration given to decision-making processes. We combined diffusion modelling with high-density EEG to identify which processing stages differ between 50 autistic and 50 typically developing children aged 6-14 years during two visual motion tasks. Our pre-registered hypotheses were that autistic children would show task-dependent differences in sensory evidence accumulation, alongside a more cautious decision-making style and longer non-decision time across tasks. We tested these hypotheses using hierarchical Bayesian diffusion models with a rigorous blind modelling approach, finding no conclusive evidence for our hypotheses. Using a data-driven method, we identified a response-locked centro-parietal component previously linked to the decision-making process. The build-up in this component did not consistently relate to evidence accumulation in autistic children. This suggests that the relationship between the EEG measure and diffusion-modelling is not straightforward in autistic children. Compared to a related study of children with dyslexia, motion processing differences appear less pronounced in autistic children. Our results also provide weak evidence that ADHD symptoms moderate perceptual decision-making in autistic children.
Center for Open Science