Publication date: Jul 14, 2023
Humans develop a constellation of different representations of the external environment, even in the face of the same sensory exposure. According to the Bayesian framework, these differentiations could be grounded in a different weight assigned to prior knowledge vs. new external inputs in predictive inference. Since recent advances in computational psychiatry suggest that autism (ASD) and schizophrenia (SSD) lie on the two diametric poles of the same predictive continuum, the adoption of a specific inferential style could be routed by dispositional factors related to autistic and schizotypal traits. However, no studies have directly investigated the role of ASD-SSD dimension in shaping the neuro-behavioral markers underlying perceptual inference. We used a probabilistic detection task while simultaneously recording EEG to investigate whether neurobehavioral signatures related to prior processing were diametrically shaped by ASD and SSD traits in the general population (n = 80). We found that the position along the ASD-SSD continuum directed the predictive strategies adopted by the individuals in decision-making. While proximity to the positive schizotypy pole was associated with the adoption of the predictive approach associated to the hyper-weighting of prior knowledge, proximity to ASD pole was related to strategies that favored sensory evidence in decision-making. These findings revealed that the weight assigned to prior knowledge is a marker of the ASD-SSD continuum, potentially useful for identifying individuals at-risk of developing mental disorders and for understanding the mechanisms contributing to the onset of symptoms observed in ASD and SSD clinical forms.