Original paper

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 39, Issue 7, pp 1014-1023

First online:

Cognitive Differences in Pictorial Reasoning Between High-Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome

  • Chérif P. SahyounAffiliated withHarvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and TechnologyMGH/MIT/HMS Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital Email author 
  • , Isabelle SoulièresAffiliated withMGH/MIT/HMS Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General HospitalClinique spécialisée de l’autisme, Hôpital Rivière-des-Prairies
  • , John W. BelliveauAffiliated withHarvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and TechnologyMGH/MIT/HMS Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • , Laurent MottronAffiliated withClinique spécialisée de l’autisme, Hôpital Rivière-des-Prairies
  • , Maria ModyAffiliated withHarvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and TechnologyMGH/MIT/HMS Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital

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Abstract

We investigated linguistic and visuospatial processing during pictorial reasoning in high-functioning autism (HFA), Asperger’s syndrome (ASP), and age and IQ-matched typically developing participants (CTRL), using three conditions designed to differentially engage linguistic mediation or visuospatial processing (visuospatial, V; semantic, S; visuospatial + semantic, V + S). The three groups did not differ in accuracy, but showed different response time profiles. ASP and CTRL participants were fastest on V + S, amenable to both linguistic and nonlinguistic mediation, whereas HFA participants were equally fast on V and V + S, where visuospatial strategies were available, and slowest on S. HFA participants appeared to favor visuospatial over linguistic mediation. The results support the use of linguistic versus visuospatial tasks for characterizing subtypes on the autism spectrum.

Keywords

High-functioning autism Asperger’s syndrome Reasoning Pictures Language Visuospatial