Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 43, Issue 7, pp 1555–1567 | Cite as

Time-Based and Event-Based Prospective Memory in Autism Spectrum Disorder: The Roles of Executive Function and Theory of Mind, and Time-Estimation

  • David WilliamsEmail author
  • Jill Boucher
  • Sophie Lind
  • Christopher Jarrold
Original Paper


Prospective memory (remembering to carry out an action in the future) has been studied relatively little in ASD. We explored time-based (carry out an action at a pre-specified time) and event-based (carry out an action upon the occurrence of a pre-specified event) prospective memory, as well as possible cognitive correlates, among 21 intellectually high-functioning children with ASD, and 21 age- and IQ-matched neurotypical comparison children. We found impaired time-based, but undiminished event-based, prospective memory among children with ASD. In the ASD group, time-based prospective memory performance was associated significantly with diminished theory of mind, but not with diminished cognitive flexibility. There was no evidence that time-estimation ability contributed to time-based prospective memory impairment in ASD.


Autism Prospective memory Theory of mind Executive functioning Cognitive flexibility Set-shifting Time-perception 



Prospective memory



The study was funded by an Economic and Social Research Council UK Grant awarded to Dr Williams, and Professors Jarrold and Boucher (Number: RES-000-22-4125). Sophie Lind was supported by an Economic and Social Research Council (UK) Research Grant (RES-062-23-2192) during this study. Sincere thanks to all of the participants who took part in this study and to their parents/guardians. Without their support, this research would not be possible. Thanks to Miss Heather Payne and Miss Catherine Grainger for support with data collection. Many thanks, also, to Dr Catherine Jones, Dr Mareike Altgassen, and Dr Maria Brandimonte for very helpfully answering queries about their respective studies.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Williams
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jill Boucher
    • 2
  • Sophie Lind
    • 1
  • Christopher Jarrold
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyDurham UniversityDurhamUK
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyCity University LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.School of Experimental PsychologyUniversity of BristolBristolUK

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