Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 298–315 | Cite as

Atypical Neurophysiology Underlying Episodic and Semantic Memory in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Esha Massand
  • Dermot M. Bowler
Original Paper


Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) show atypicalities in episodic memory (Boucher et al. in Psychological Bulletin, 138 (3), 458–496, 2012). We asked participants to recall the colours of a set of studied line drawings (episodic judgement), or to recognize line drawings alone (semantic judgement). Cycowicz et al. (Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 65, 171–237, 2001) found early (300 ms onset) posterior old–new event-related potential effects for semantic judgements in typically developing (TD) individuals, and occipitally focused negativity (800 ms onset) for episodic judgements. Our results replicated findings in TD individuals and demonstrate attenuated early old–new effects in ASD. Late posterior negativity was present in the ASD group, but was not specific to this time window. This non-specificity may contribute to the atypical episodic memory judgements characteristic of individuals with ASD.


Memory Episodic Semantic Source memory Autism spectrum disorder Event-related potential 



Autism quotient




Event-related potential


Full intelligence quotient




Performance intelligence quotient


Typically developing



The authors would like to thank the individuals who participated in the study. The first author was supported by a research studentship from the Department of Psychology, City University London.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Autism Research Group, Department of PsychologyCity University LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, Birkbeck CollegeUniversity of LondonLondonUK

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