Disrupted prediction errors index social deficits in autism spectrum disorder.
Balsters JH., Apps MA., Bolis D., Lehner R., Gallagher L., Wenderoth N.
Social deficits are a core symptom of autism spectrum disorder; however, the perturbed neural mechanisms underpinning these deficits remain unclear. It has been suggested that social prediction errors-coding discrepancies between the predicted and actual outcome of another's decisions-might play a crucial role in processing social information. While the gyral surface of the anterior cingulate cortex signalled social prediction errors in typically developing individuals, this crucial social signal was altered in individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Importantly, the degree to which social prediction error signalling was aberrant correlated with diagnostic measures of social deficits. Effective connectivity analyses further revealed that, in typically developing individuals but not in autism spectrum disorder, the magnitude of social prediction errors was driven by input from the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. These data provide a novel insight into the neural substrates underlying autism spectrum disorder social symptom severity, and further research into the gyral surface of the anterior cingulate cortex and ventromedial prefrontal cortex could provide more targeted therapies to help ameliorate social deficits in autism spectrum disorder.