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Memory. 2011 Jan;19(1):56-66. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2010.535657.

To do or not to do? Prospective memory versus response inhibition in autism spectrum disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

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  • 1Laboratory of Experimental Psychology, Suor Orsola Benincasa University, Via Suor Orsola 10, Naples, Italy.


In the present research, event-based prospective memory and response inhibition (RI) abilities were investigated in children with ASD (Study 1), with ADHD (Study 2), and their matched neurotypical controls. Children engaged in a categorisation (ongoing) task and, concurrently, in either an event-based prospective memory (PM) or a Go/No-Go secondary task. Results showed that, as compared to their matched controls, ASD children's performance was more impaired in the PM task than in the Go/No-Go task, while the performance pattern of ADHD children was reversed. In the ongoing task, ASD children were as accurate as, but significantly slower than, controls, independently of conditions. ADHD children did not differ from controls in the presence of a concurrent PM task, while they were less accurate than controls in the presence of the go/no-go task. Overall, the two patterns of findings suggest important differences in the way ASD and ADHD children remember and realise intentions requiring opposite behaviours (acting vs stopping).

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