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PLoS One. 2010 Jul 22;5(7):e11731. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0011731.

Learning in autism: implicitly superb.

Author information

1
Institute of Psychology, University of Szeged, Szeged, Hungary. nemethd@edpsy.u-szeged.hu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Although autistic people have shown impairments in various learning and memory tasks, recent studies have reported mixed findings concerning implicit learning in ASD. Implicit skill learning, with its unconscious and statistical properties, underlies not only motor but also cognitive and social skills, and it therefore plays an important role from infancy to old age.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:

We investigated probabilistic implicit sequence learning and its consolidation in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Three groups of children participated: thirteen with high-functioning ASD, 14 age-matched controls, and 13 IQ-matched controls. All were tested on the Alternating Serial Reaction Time Task (ASRT), making it possible to separate general skill learning from sequence-specific learning. The ASRT task was repeated after 16 hours. We found that control and ASD children showed similar sequence-specific and general skill learning in the learning phase. Consolidation of skill learning and sequence-specific learning were also intact in the ASD compared to the control groups.

CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:

These results suggest that autistic children can use the effects/results of implicit learning not only for a short period, but also for a longer stretch of time. Using these findings, therapists can design more effective educational and rehabilitation programs.

PMID:
20661300
PMCID:
PMC2908691
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0011731
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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