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Neuropsychology. 2011 Nov;25(6):690-701. doi: 10.1037/a0024256.

Evidence for selective inhibitory impairment in individuals with autism spectrum disorder.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychological Sciences, 210 McAlester Hall, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65203, USA. christse@missouri.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The social and communicative challenges faced by individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are often compounded by additional difficulties with executive function. It remains unclear, however, to what the extent individuals with ASD experienced impairment in inhibitory control. The objective of the present study was to assess the three main subtypes of executive inhibitory control within a single ASD sample thus providing new insight into the unique ASD-related pattern of sparing and impairment observed across different aspects of inhibitory control.

METHOD:

A sample of 28 children with ASD (mean age = 13.1 years) and a comparison group of 49 neurologically uncompromised children (mean age = 13.3 years) participated. A prepotent response inhibition task, a flanker visual filtering task, and a proactive interference memory task were used to evaluate prepotent response inhibition, resistance to distracter interference, and resistance to proactive interference, respectively.

RESULTS:

After accounting for individual differences in noninhibition abilities (e.g., processing speed) and overall level of functioning, there was no evidence of group-related differences in inhibitory performance on the prepotent response inhibition test or proactive interference test. ASD-related impairments in inhibitory control were evident, however, on the flanker visual filtering task.

CONCLUSIONS:

Taken together, the present findings indicate that ASD is associated with impairments in some, but not all, aspects of inhibitory control. Individuals with ASD appear to have difficulty ignoring distracting visual information, but prepotent response inhibition and resistance to proactive interference are relatively intact. The current findings also provide support for a multitype model of inhibitory control.

PMID:
21728431
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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