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Child Dev. 1996 Aug;67(4):1816-35.

Intact and impaired memory functions in autism.

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  • 1University of Denver, Department of Psychology, CO 80208, USA.


This study examined memory functions in individuals with autism. Based on previous evidence of executive function (EF) deficits, we hypothesized that subjects with autism would demonstrate a pattern of intact and impaired memory functions similar to that found in other groups with EF deficits, such as patients with frontal lobe pathology. We compared the performance of high-functioning children and adolescents with autism (n = 19) and clinical comparison subjects (n = 19) matched on sex, CA, and VIQ on measures of memory and EF. The group with autism performed significantly worse than comparison subjects on measures of temporal order memory, source memory, supraspan free recall, working memory, and EF, but not on short- and long-term recognition, cued recall, or new learning ability, consistent with the predictions of the EF theory. The cognitive measures were significantly more intercorrelated in the autism group than the comparison group, consistent with a limit in central cognition.

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