Atypical Impact of Action Effect Delay on Motor Performance in Autism

Noam Karsh, Marissa Hartston, Bat Sheva Hadad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Atypical sensory perception and motor impairments are primary features of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that indicate atypical development and predict social and non-social challenges. However, their link is poorly understood. Sensory perception is often integrated with motor processes when a sensory effect is temporally contiguous with the motor response. Such sensory-motor coupling further improves motor behavior. Previous studies indicate alterations in sensory perception of action-effect temporal contiguity in ASD, which bares the question of how it may impact motor performance. People diagnosed with ASD and typically developed (TD) participants performed a speeded reaction-time task previously established to capture the facilitating impact of action’s perceptual effect on motor response selection. The sensitivity of this mechanism to delays in the effect was measured, manipulating the action-effect temporal contiguity in a within-subject design. An immediate action effect (compared to a No-effect condition) facilitated response selection in the TD group. This facilitation effect was evident in the ASD group but did not show the typical sensitivity to the effect delay. While in the TD group, RT was shorter in the short (225ms) compared to the long (675ms) action effect delay condition, this distinguished pattern was absent in the ASD group. The findings provide supporting evidence that atypical motor performance in ASD results, at least in part, from an altered sensory perception of action effect temporal contiguity. We discuss the results in light of the reduced perceptual specialization account in ASD and its potential for undermining adaptive sensorimotor processes.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Early online date5 Feb 2024
StatePublished Online - 5 Feb 2024


  • Agency
  • Autism
  • Control
  • Motor performance
  • Predictions
  • Sensorimotor

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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