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Psychol Bull. 2012 May;138(3):458-96. doi: 10.1037/a0026869. Epub 2012 Mar 12.

Memory in autistic spectrum disorder.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, City University, London, United Kingdom. Jill Boucher.1@city.ac

Abstract

Behavioral evidence concerning memory in forms of high-functioning autism (HFA) and in moderately low-functioning autism (M-LFA) is reviewed and compared. Findings on M-LFA are sparse. However, it is provisionally concluded that memory profiles in HFA and M-LFA (relative to ability-matched controls) are similar but that declarative memory impairments are more extensive in M-LFA than in HFA. Specifically, both groups have diminished memory for emotion- or person-related stimuli. Regarding memory for nonsocial stimuli, both groups probably have mental-age-appropriate nondeclarative memory, and within declarative memory, both groups have mental-age-appropriate immediate free recall of within-span or supraspan lists of unrelated items, as well as cued recall and paired associate learning. By contrast, recognition is largely unimpaired in HFA but moderately impaired in M-LFA, and free recall of meaningful or structured stimuli is moderately impaired in HFA but more severely impaired in M-LFA. Theoretical explanations of data on declarative memory in HFA identify problems in the integrative processing, or the consolidation and storage, of complex stimuli or a specific problem of recollection. Proposed neural substrates include the following: disconnectivity of primary sensory and association areas; dysfunctions of medial prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, or posterior parietal lobe; or combinations of these associated with neural disconnectivity. Hypothetically, perirhinal dysfunction might explain the more extensive declarative memory impairments in M-LFA. Foreseeable consequences of uneven memory abilities in HFA and M-LFA are outlined, including possible effects on language and learning in M-LFA. Finally, priorities for future research are identified, highlighting the urgent need for research on memory in lower functioning individuals.

PMID:
22409507
DOI:
10.1037/a0026869
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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