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Neuropsychology. 2008 Sep;22(5):563-70. doi: 10.1037/0894-4105.22.5.563.

Intact implicit learning of spatial context and temporal sequences in childhood autism spectrum disorder.

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Department of Psychology, Georgetown University, Washington DC 20057, USA.


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is defined by atypicalities in domains that are posited to rely on implicit learning processes such as social communication, language, and motor behavior. The authors examined 2 forms of implicit learning in 14 children with high-functioning ASD (10 of whom were diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome) and 14 control children, learning of spatial context known to be mediated by the medial temporal lobes (using the contextual cueing task) and of sequences known to be mediated by frontal-striatal and frontal-cerebellar circuits (using the alternating serial reaction time task). Both forms of learning were unimpaired in ASD. Spatial contextual implicit learning was spared in ASD despite slower visual search of spatial displays. The present findings provide evidence for the integrity of learning processes dependent on integration of spatial and sequential contextual information in high-functioning children with ASD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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