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Res Dev Disabil. 2019 Jul;90:1-13. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2019.04.008. Epub 2019 Apr 20.

Do importance instructions improve time-based prospective remembering in autism spectrum conditions?

Author information

1
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University, the Netherlands. Electronic address: a.altgassen@donders.ru.nl.
2
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University, the Netherlands.
3
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University, the Netherlands; Academic Centre for Epileptology, Kempenhaeghe, Heeze, the Netherlands.

Abstract

This study explored the impact of motivation on the memory for delayed intentions (so-called, prospective memory, PM) in autistic individuals. Specifically, we were interested in the effects of personal (i.e., receiving a reward) as compared to social motivation (i.e., performing a favour for someone). Given the well-established theory of mind deficits in autism, we expected autistic individuals to benefit more strongly from personal than social importance manipulations, whereas the opposite pattern was predicted for controls. Sixty-one adolescents with autism and 61 typically developing adolescents participated, with each group distributed equally to one of the three motivation conditions of standard, social and personal reward. Participants worked on a 2-back picture-based ongoing task in which a time-based PM task was embedded. A mixed 2 (Group) x 3 (Motivation condition) analysis of covariance with age, verbal and non-verbal abilities as covariates and correct PM responses as dependent variable indicated solely a main effect of group, with controls outperforming the autism group. In contrast to our expectations, there was no main effect of condition, no significant interaction, and none of the covariates had any significant impact. However, further planned analyses revealed that controls only outperformed autistic individuals in the personal reward condition. Controls performed significantly best when a personal reward was promised, whereas there were no significant differences between the motivation conditions for autistic individuals. Findings are discussed in terms of underlying processes.

KEYWORDS:

Autism; Motivation; Prospective memory; Reward; Social

PMID:
31015072
DOI:
10.1016/j.ridd.2019.04.008

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