Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 44, Issue 9, pp 2355–2362 | Cite as

Binding of Multiple Features in Memory by High-Functioning Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Dermot M. Bowler
  • Sebastian B. Gaigg
  • John M. Gardiner
Original Paper


Diminished episodic memory and diminished use of semantic information to aid recall by individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are both thought to result from diminished relational binding of elements of complex stimuli. To test this hypothesis, we asked high-functioning adults with ASD and typical comparison participants to study grids in which some cells contained drawings of objects in non-canonical colours. Participants were told at study which features (colour, item, location) would be tested in a later memory test. In a second experiment, participants studied similar grids and were told that they would be tested on object-location or object-colour combinations. Recognition of combinations was significantly diminished in ASD, which survived covarying performance on the Color Trails Test (D’Elia et al. Color trails test. Professional manual. Psychological Assessment Resources, Lutz, 1996), a test of executive difficulties. The findings raise the possibility that medial temporal as well as frontal lobe processes are dysfunctional in ASD.


Autism Memory Relational binding 



The authors would like to thank the participants for giving their time in these experiments, two anonymous reviewers for insightful comments and the Medical Research Council UK for financial support (Grant Number: G0401413).

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 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dermot M. Bowler
    • 1
  • Sebastian B. Gaigg
    • 1
  • John M. Gardiner
    • 1
  1. 1.Autism Research Group, Department of PsychologyCity University LondonLondonUK

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