Advertisement

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 42, Issue 6, pp 1052–1063 | Cite as

Inhibition in Autism: Children with Autism have Difficulty Inhibiting Irrelevant Distractors but not Prepotent Responses

  • Nena C. AdamsEmail author
  • Christopher Jarrold
Original paper

Abstract

Resistance to distractor inhibition tasks have previously revealed impairments in children with autism. However, on the classic Stroop task and other prepotent response tasks, children with autism show intact inhibition. These data may reflect a distinction between prepotent response and resistance to distractor inhibition. The current study investigated this possibility using tasks that systematically manipulated inhibitory load. Findings showed that children with autism performed comparably to typically developing and learning disabled controls on a prepotent response inhibition stop-signal task but showed significant inhibitory impairment on a modified flanker resistence to distractor inhibition task. Although the results are clearly consistent with the suggestion that autism is associated with a specific deficit in resistance to distractor inhibition, they may in fact be related to an increased perceptual capacity in autism.

Keywords

Autism Inhibition Resistance to distractor inhibition Prepotent response inhibition Children 

References

  1. Adams, N. C., & Jarrold, C. (2009). Inhibition and the validity of the Stroop task for children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 39, 1112–1121.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ames, C. S., & Jarrold, C. (2007). The problem with using eye-gaze to infer desire: A deficit of cue inference in children with autism spectrum disorder? Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37, 1761–1775.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bishop, D. V. M., & Norbury, C. F. (2005). Executive functions in children with communication impairments, in relation to autistic symptomotology. Autism, 9, 7–27.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Broadbent, D. E., Cooper, P. F., Fitzgerald, P., & Parkes, K. R. (1982). The cognitive failures questionnaire (CFQ) and its correlates. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 21, 1–16.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bryson, S. E. (1983). Interference effects in autistic children: Evidence for the comprehension of single stimuli. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 92, 250–254.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bunge, S. A., Ochsner, K. N., Desmond, J. E., Glover, G. H., & Gabrieli, J. D. E. (2001). Prefrontal regions involved in keeping information in and out of mind. Brain, 124, 2074–2086.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Burack, J. A. (1994). Selective attention deficits in persons with autism: Preliminary evidence of an inefficient attentional lens. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 103, 535–543.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Christ, S. E., Holt, D. D., White, D. A., & Green, L. (2007). Inhibitory control in children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37, 1155–1165.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Christ, S. E., Kester, L. E., Bodner, K., & Miles, J. H. (in press). Evidence for selective inhibitory impairment in individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Neuropsychology. Google Scholar
  10. Daneman, M., & Carpenter, P. A. (1980). Individual differences in working memory and reading. Journal of Verbal Learning and Behavior, 19, 450–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. de Zubicaray, G. I., Andrew, C., Zelaya, F. O., Williams, S. C. R., & Dumanoir, C. (2000). Motor response suppression and the prepotent tendency to respond: A parametric fMRI study. Neuropsychologia, 38, 1280–1291.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dempster, F. (1992). The rise and fall of the inhibitory mechanism: Toward a unified theory of cognitive development and aging. Developmental Review, 12, 45–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dempster, F. N. (1993). Resistance to interference: Developmental changes in a basic processing dimension. In M. L. Howe & R. Pasnak (Eds.), Emerging themes in cognitive development. Vol. 1: Foundations (pp. 3–27). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Eriksen, B. A., & Eriksen, C. W. (1974). Effects of noise letters upon identification of a target letter in a non search task. Perception and Psychophysics, 16, 143–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Eskes, G., Bryson, S., & McCormick, T. (1990). Comprehension of concrete and abstract words in autistic children. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 20, 61–73.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fan, J., McCandliss, B. D., Sommer, T., Raz, A., & Posner, M. I. (2002). Testing the efficiency and independence of attentional networks. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 14, 340–347.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Friedman, N. P., & Miyake, A. (2004). The relations among inhibition and interference control functions: A latent variable analysis. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 133, 101–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Garavan, H., Ross, T. J., & Stein, E. A. (1999). Right hemispheric dominance of inhibitory control: An event-related functional MRI study. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 96, 8301–8306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Garon, N., Bryson, S., & Smith, I. (2008). Executive function in preschoolers: A review using an integrative framework. Psychological Bulletin, 134, 31–60.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Geurts, H., Luman, M., & van Meel, C. S. (2008). What’s in a game: The effect of social motivation on interference control in boys with ADHD and autism spectrum disorders. Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49, 848–857.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Geurts, H., Verté, S., Oosterlaan, J., Roeyers, H., & Sergeant, J. (2004). How specific are executive functioning deficits in attention deficits in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism? Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45, 836–845.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Goldberg, M. C., Mostofsky, S. H., Cutting, L. E., Mahone, E. M., Astor, B. C., Denckla, M. B., et al. (2005). Subtle executive impairment in children with autism and ADHD. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 35, 279–293.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Griffith, E., Pennington, B., Wehner, E., & Rogers, S. (1999). Executive function in young children in autism. Child Development, 70, 817–832.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Harnishfeger, K. K. (1995). The development of cognitive inhibition: Theories, definitions, and research evidence. In F. N. Dempster & C. J. Brainerd (Eds.), Interference and inhibition in cognition (pp. 175–204). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hasher, L., & Zacks, R. T. (1988). Working memory, comprehension, and aging: A review and a new view. In G. H. Bower (Ed.), The psychology of learning and motivation (Vol. 22, pp. 193–225). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  26. Henderson, H., Schwartz, C., Mundy, P., Burnette, C., Sutton, S., Zahka, N., et al. (2006). Response monitoring, the error-related negativity, and differences in social behavior in autism. Brain and Cognition, 61, 96–109.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hill, E. L. (2004). Evaluating the theory of executive dysfunction in autism. Developmental Review, 24, 189–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Iarocci, G., & Burack, J. (2004). Intact covert orienting to peripheral cues among children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 34, 257–264.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Johnston, K., Madden, A. K., Brahman, J., & Russell, A. J. (2011). Response inhibition in adults with autism spectrum disorder compared to attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 41, 903–912.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Joseph, R. M., & Tager-Flusberg, H. (2004). The relationship of theory of mind and executive functions to symptom type and severity in children with autism. Development and Psychopathology, 16, 137–155.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kane, M. J., Bleckley, M. K., Conway, A. R. A., & Engle, R. W. (2001). A controlled-attention view of working-memory capacity. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 130, 169–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Keehn, B., Lincoln, A. J., Müller, R.-A., & Townsend, J. (2010). Attentional networks in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 51, 1251–1259.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lavie, N., Lin, Z., Zokaei, N., & Thoma, V. (2009). The role of perceptual load in object recognition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 35, 1346–1358.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lopez, B. R., Lincoln, A. J., Ozonoff, S., & Lai, Z. (2005). Examining the relationship between executive functions and restricted, repetitive symptoms of autistic disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 35, 445–460.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Minshew, N., Luna, B., & Sweeney, J. (1999). Oculomotor evidence for neocortical systems but no cerebellar dysfunction in autism. Neurology, 52, 917–922.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Nigg, J. T. (2000). On inhibition/disinhibition in developmental psychopathology: Views from cognitive and personality psychology and a working inhibition taxonomy. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 220–246.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Ozonoff, S., & Jensen, J. (1999). Brief report: Specific executive function profiles in three neurodevelopmental disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 29, 171–177.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Ozonoff, S., & Strayer, D. L. (1997). Inhibitory function in nonretarded children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 27, 59–77.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Ozonoff, S., Strayer, D. L., McMahon, W. M., & Filloux, F. (1994). Executive function abilities in autism and Tourette syndrome: An information-processing approach. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 35, 1015–1032.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Plaisted, K., O’Riordan, M., & Baron-Cohen, S. (1998). Enhanced discrimination of novel, highly similar stimuli by adults with autism during a perceptual learning task. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 39, 765–775.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Raven, J. C., Court, J. H., & Raven, J. (1990). Coloured progressive matrices. Oxford: Oxford Psychologists Press.Google Scholar
  42. Remington, A., Swettenham, J., Campbell, R., & Coleman, M. (2009). Selective attention and perceptual load in autism spectrum disorder. Psychological Science, 20, 1388–1393.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Russell, J., Jarrold, C., & Hood, B. (1999). Two intact executive capacities in children with autism: Implications for the core executive dysfunctions in the disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 29, 103–112.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rutter, M., Bailey, A., & Lord, C. (2003). The social communication questionnaire. Los Angeles: Western Psychological Services.Google Scholar
  45. Shallice, T. (1988). From neuropsychology to mental structure. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Uhl, F., Podreka, I., & Deecke, L. (1994). Anterior frontal cortex and the effect of proactive interference in word pair learning: Results of Brain- SPECT. Neuropsychologia, 32, 241–247.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Wegner, D. M., & Zanakos, S. (1994). Chronic thought suppression. Journal of Personality, 62, 615–640.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Experimental PsychologyUniversity of BrsitolBristolUK

Personalised recommendations