Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 44, Issue 11, pp 2809–2819 | Cite as

Efficacy of Cognitive Processes in Young People with High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder Using a Novel Visual Information-Processing Task

  • Samantha J. Speirs
  • Nicole J. Rinehart
  • Stephen R. Robinson
  • Bruce J. Tonge
  • Gregory W. Yelland
Original Paper


Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are characterised by a unique pattern of preserved abilities and deficits within and across cognitive domains. The Complex Information Processing Theory proposes this pattern reflects an altered capacity to respond to cognitive demands. This study compared how complexity induced by time constraints on processing affect cognitive function in individuals with ASD and typically-developing individuals. On a visual information-processing task, the Subtle Cognitive Impairment Test, both groups exhibited sensitivity to time-constraints. Further, 65 % of individuals with ASD demonstrated deficits in processing efficiency, possibly attributable to the effects of age and clinical comorbidities, like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. These findings suggest that for some ASD individuals there are significant impairments in processing efficiency, which may have implications for education and interventions.


Autism spectrum disorder Cognitive processing Processing efficacy Subtle Cognitive Impairment Test Speed of processing 


Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samantha J. Speirs
    • 1
  • Nicole J. Rinehart
    • 2
  • Stephen R. Robinson
    • 3
  • Bruce J. Tonge
    • 1
  • Gregory W. Yelland
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Psychology and PsychiatryMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia
  2. 2.Deakin Child Study Centre, School of PsychologyDeakin UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.School of Health SciencesRMIT UniversityBundooraAustralia
  4. 4.Central Clinical SchoolMonash University, The Alfred CentreMelbourneAustralia

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