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J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2010 Nov;51(11):1251-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2010.02257.x. Epub 2010 Aug 19.

Attentional networks in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder.

Author information

1
Joint Doctoral Program in Language and Communicative Disorders, San Diego State University/University of California-San Diego, 6363 Alvarado Ct. #225N, San Diego, CA 92120, USA. bkeehn@ucsd.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) exhibit lifelong abnormalities in the adaptive allocation of visual attention. The ubiquitous nature of attentional impairments in ASD has led some authors to hypothesize that atypical attentional modulation may be a factor in the development of higher-level sociocommunicative deficits.

METHOD:

Participants were 20 children with ASD and 20 age- and Nonverbal IQ-matched typically developing (TD) children. We used the Attention Network Test (ANT) to investigate the efficiency and independence of three discrete attentional networks: alerting, orienting, and executive control. Additionally, we sought to investigate the relationship between each attentional network and measures of sociocommunicative symptom severity in children with ASD.

RESULTS:

Results indicate that the orienting, but not alerting or executive control, networks may be impaired in children with ASD. In contrast to TD children, correlational analyses suggest that the alerting and executive control networks may not function as independently in children with ASD. Additionally, an association was found between the alerting network and social impairment and between the executive control network and IQ in children with ASD.

CONCLUSIONS:

The results provide further evidence of an impairment in the visuospatial orienting network in ASD and suggest that there may be greater interdependence of alerting and executive control networks in ASD. Furthermore, decreased ability to efficiently modulate levels of alertness was related to increased sociocommunicative deficits, suggesting that domain-general attentional function may be associated with ASD symptomatology.

PMID:
20456535
PMCID:
PMC3145814
DOI:
10.1111/j.1469-7610.2010.02257.x
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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