, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 3-14

Implicit and Explicit Memory in Autism: Is Autism an Amnesic Disorder?

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Abstract

Medial temporal lobe amnesic disorder is characterized by an impairment in explicit memory (e.g., remembering a shopping list) and intact implicit memory (e.g., a woman seems familiar although you cannot remember having met her before). This study examined whether children with high-functioning autism have this same dissociation between explicit and implicit memory abilities. Children with autism and normal development participated in three memory tasks: one implicit task (perceptual identification) and two explicit tasks (recognition and recall). Children with autism showed intact implicit and explicit memory abilities. However, they did not show the typical pattern of recalling more items from both the beginning and end of a list and instead only recalled items from the end of the list. These results do not support the theory that high-functioning autism is a type of medial temporal lobe amnesia. However, these findings suggest that persons with autism use different organizational strategies during encoding or retrieval of items from memory.