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    Modeling flexible behavior in childhood to adulthood shows age-dependent learning mechanisms and less optimal learning in autism in each age group

    Crawley, D. and Zhang, L. and Jones, Emily J.H. and Ahmad, J. and Oakley, B. (2020) Modeling flexible behavior in childhood to adulthood shows age-dependent learning mechanisms and less optimal learning in autism in each age group. PLOS Biology , ISSN 1545-7885.

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    Abstract

    Flexible behavior is critical for everyday decision-making and has been implicated in restricted, repetitive behaviors (RRB) in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, how flexible behavior changes developmentally in ASD remains largely unknown. Here, we used a developmental approach and examined flexible behavior on a probabilistic reversal learning task in 572 children, adolescents and adults (ASD N=321; typical development, TD; N=251). Using computational modeling, we quantified latent variables that index mechanisms underlying perseveration and feedback sensitivity. We then assessed these variables in relation to diagnosis, developmental stage, core autism symptomatology and associated psychiatric symptoms. Autistic individuals showed on average more perseveration and less feedback sensitivity than TD individuals and, across cases and controls, older age groups showed more feedback sensitivity than younger age groups. Computational modeling revealed that dominant learning mechanisms underpinning flexible behavior differed across developmental stages and reduced flexible behavior in ASD was driven by less optimal learning on average within each age group. In autistic children, perseverative errors were positively related to anxiety symptoms, and in autistic adults, perseveration (indexed by both task errors and model parameters) was positively related to RRB. These findings provide novel insights into reduced flexible behavior in relation to clinical symptoms in ASD.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Article
    School: School of Science > Psychological Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Brain and Cognitive Development, Centre for (CBCD)
    Depositing User: Emily Jones
    Date Deposited: 23 Nov 2020 10:47
    Last Modified: 16 Jun 2021 03:35
    URI: https://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/40967

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