Diminished Time-Based, but Undiminished Event-Based, Prospective Memory Among Intellectually High-Functioning Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorder: Relation to Working Memory Ability

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Williams, David M. ; Jarrold, Christopher ; Grainger, Catherine ; Lind, Sophie E. (2013)
  • Publisher: American Psychological Association
  • Journal: Neuropsychology, volume 28, issue 1, pages 30-42 (issn: 0894-4105, eissn: 1931-1559)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1037/neu0000008, pmc: PMC3906801
  • Subject: RC0321 | BF | prospective memory | working memory | short-term memory (STM) | Articles | autism | complex span
    mesheuropmc: genetic structures | behavioral disciplines and activities | mental disorders

Objective\ud Prospective memory (PM) is the ability to remember to carry out an intended action. Working memory is the ability to store information in mind while processing potentially distracting information. The few previous studies of PM in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have yielded inconsistent findings. Studies of working memory ability in ASD have suggested a selective impairment of "visual working memory." However, it remains unclear whether any such impairment is the result of diminished (domain-specific; visual/verbal) storage capacity or diminished (domain-general) processing capacity. We aim to clarify these issues and explore the relation between PM and working memory in ASD. \ud \ud Method \ud Seventeen adults with ASD and 17 age- and IQ-matched comparison participants completed experimental measures of both event-based (perform action x when event y occurs) and time-based (perform action a at time b) PM, plus a self-report measure of PM skills. Participants also completed a working memory test battery.\ud \ud Results\ud Participants with ASD self-reported diminished PM skill, and showed diminished performance on the time-based, but not event-based, PM task. On the working memory test battery, visual but not verbal storage capacity was diminished among participants with ASD, as was processing ability. Whereas visual storage was associated with event-based PM task performance among comparison participants, verbal storage was associated among ASD participants.\ud \ud Conclusions: ASD appears to involve a selective deficit in time-based PM and a selective difficulty with aspects of working memory that depend on the storage of visual information. However, event-based PM may be achieved through compensatory strategies in ASD. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
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