Electrophysiological evidence of heterogeneity in visual statistical learning in young children with ASD
Shafali S. Jeste, Natasha Kirkham, Damla Senturk, Kyle Hasenstab, Catherine Sugar, Chloe Kupelian, Elizabeth Baker, Andrew J. Sanders, Christina Shimizu, Amanda Norona, Tanya Paparella, Stephanny F.N. Freeman and Scott P. Johnson
Article first published online: 13 MAY 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/desc.12188
We investigated the electrophysiological correlates of visual statistical learning in young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) using an event-related potential shape learning paradigm, and we examined the relation between visual statistical learning and cognitive function. Compared to typically developing (TD) controls, the ASD group as a whole showed reduced evidence of learning as defined by N1 (early visual discrimination) and P300 (attention to novelty) components. Upon further analysis, in the ASD group there was a positive correlation between N1 amplitude difference and non-verbal IQ, and a positive correlation between P300 amplitude difference and adaptive social function. Children with ASD and a high non-verbal IQ and high adaptive social function, therefore, demonstrated a distinctive pattern of learning. This is the first study to identify electrophysiological markers of visual statistical learning in children with ASD, and the first to demonstrate heterogeneity in statistical learning in ASD that maps onto non-verbal cognition and adaptive social function.