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Cooperation and Heterogeneity of the Autistic Mind
Journal of Neuroscience
Format: Journal Article
Publication Year: 2010
Pages: 8815 - 8818
Source ID: shanti-sources-38996
Collection: Theory of Mind
Abstract: Individuals with autism spectrum conditions (ASCs) have a core difficulty in recursively inferring the intentions of others. The precise cognitive dysfunctions that determine the heterogeneity at the heart of this spectrum, however, remains unclear. Furthermore, it remains possible that impairment in social interaction is not a fundamental deficit but a reflection of deficits in distinct cognitive processes. To better understand heterogeneity within ASCs, we employed a game-theoretic approach to characterize unobservable computational processes implicit in social interactions. Using a social hunting game with autistic adults, we found that a selective difficulty representing the level of strategic sophistication of others, namely inferring others’ mindreading strategy, specifically predicts symptom severity. In contrast, a reduced ability in iterative planning was predicted by overall intellectual level. Our findings provide the first quantitative approach that can reveal the underlying computational dysfunctions that generate the autistic “spectrum.”