1. Neuroscience
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Autistic traits, but not schizotypy, predict increased weighting of sensory information in Bayesian visual integration

  1. Povilas Karvelis
  2. Aaron R Seitz
  3. Stephen M Lawrie
  4. Peggy Seriès  Is a corresponding author
  1. University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  2. University of California, Riverside, United States
Research Article
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Cite this article as: eLife 2018;7:e34115 doi: 10.7554/eLife.34115


Recent theories propose that schizophrenia/schizotypy and autistic spectrum disorder are related to impairments in Bayesian inference i.e. how the brain integrates sensory information (likelihoods) with prior knowledge. However existing accounts fail to clarify: i) how proposed theories differ in accounts of ASD vs. schizophrenia and ii) whether the impairments result from weaker priors or enhanced likelihoods. Here, we directly address these issues by characterizing how 91 healthy participants, scored for autistic and schizotypal traits, implicitly learned and combined priors with sensory information. This was accomplished through a visual statistical learning paradigm designed to quantitatively assess variations in individuals' likelihoods and priors. The acquisition of the priors was found to be intact along both traits spectra. However, autistic traits were associated with more veridical perception and weaker influence of expectations. Bayesian modeling revealed that this was due, not to weaker prior expectations, but to more precise sensory representations.

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Author details

  1. Povilas Karvelis

    School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Aaron R Seitz

    Department of Psychology, University of California, Riverside, Riverside, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Stephen M Lawrie

    Division of Psychiatry, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-2444-5675
  4. Peggy Seriès

    School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-8580-7975


NARSAD (Young investigator grant 19271)

  • Peggy Seriès

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.


Human subjects: All participants gave informed written consent and received monetary compensation for participation. The study was approved by the University of Edinburgh School of Informatics Ethics Panel.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Klaas Enno Stephan, University of Zurich and ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Publication history

  1. Received: December 8, 2017
  2. Accepted: May 6, 2018
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: May 14, 2018 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: May 23, 2018 (version 2)


© 2018, Karvelis et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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