, Volume 42, Issue 9, pp 1870-1883
Date: 22 Dec 2011

The Rubber Hand Illusion Reveals Proprioceptive and Sensorimotor Differences in Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Abstract

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterised by differences in unimodal and multimodal sensory and proprioceptive processing, with complex biases towards local over global processing. Many of these elements are implicated in versions of the rubber hand illusion (RHI), which were therefore studied in high-functioning individuals with ASD and a typically developing control group. Both groups experienced the illusion. A number of differences were found, related to proprioception and sensorimotor processes. The ASD group showed reduced sensitivity to visuotactile-proprioceptive discrepancy but more accurate proprioception. This group also differed on acceleration in subsequent reach trials. Results are discussed in terms of weak top-down integration and precision-accuracy trade-offs. The RHI appears to be a useful tool for investigating multisensory processing in ASD.