Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social skills, motor and perceptual atypicalities. These difficulties were explained within the Bayesian framework as either reflecting oversensitivity to prediction errors or – just the opposite – slow updating of such errors. To test these opposing theories, we administer paced finger-tapping, a synchronization task that requires use of recent sensory information for fast error-correction. We use computational modelling to disentangle the contributions of error-correction from that of noise in keeping temporal intervals, and in executing motor responses. To assess the specificity of tapping characteristics to autism, we compare performance to both neurotypical individuals and individuals with dyslexia. Only the autism group shows poor sensorimotor synchronization. Trial-by-trial modelling reveals typical noise levels in interval representations and motor responses. However, rate of error correction is reduced in autism, impeding synchronization ability. These results provide evidence for slow updating of internal representations in autism.
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© 2021, The Author(s).