Visual statistical learning and integration of perceptual priors are intact in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
Deficits in visual statistical learning and predictive processing could in principle explain the key characteristics of inattention and distractibility in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Specifically, from a Bayesian perspective, ADHD may be associated with flatter likelihoods (increased sensory processing noise), and/or difficulties in generating or using predictions. To our knowledge, such hypotheses have never been directly tested. Methods We here test these hypotheses by
... se hypotheses by evaluating whether adults diagnosed with ADHD (n = 17) differed from a control group (n = 30) in implicitly learning and using low-level perceptual priors to guide sensory processing. We used a visual statistical learning task in which participants had to estimate the direction of a cloud of coherently moving dots. Unbeknown to the participants, two of the directions were more frequently presented than the others, creating an implicit bias (prior) towards those directions. This task had previously revealed differences in other neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autistic spectrum disorder and schizophrenia. Results We found that both groups acquired the prior expectation for the most frequent directions and that these expectations substantially influenced task performance. Overall, there were no group differences in how much the priors influenced performance. However, subtle group differences were found in the influence of the prior over time. Conclusion Our findings suggest that the symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity in ADHD do not stem from broad difficulties in developing and/or using low-level perceptual priors.