Neuropsychology Review

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 46–61 | Cite as

A Meta-Analysis of Working Memory Impairments in Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Ya Wang
  • Yi-bing Zhang
  • Lu-lu Liu
  • Ji-fang Cui
  • Jing Wang
  • David H. K. Shum
  • Therese van Amelsvoort
  • Raymond C. K. Chan
Review

Abstract

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are characterized by executive dysfunction, and working memory (WM) comprises one core component of executive function. Many studies have investigated WM impairments in individuals with ASD, however, a conclusive agreement has not been reached. The present study provided a meta-analytic review of WM impairments in individuals with ASD and evaluated potential moderating variables of this problem. Twenty-eight studies were included in this study, and the participants comprised 819 individuals with ASD and 875 healthy controls. A significant WM impairment (Cohen’s d = −0.61) was identified in the individuals with ASD, however, this impairment was not associated with age. Results of moderation analyses showed that (a) spatial WM was more severely impaired than verbal WM and (b) the component of cognitive processing (maintenance vs. maintenance plus manipulation) did not affect the severity of WM impairments. These findings suggest that WM is impaired in individuals with ASD and may have implications for interventions related to WM impairments in these individuals.

Keywords

Working memory Autism spectrum disorders Meta-analysis Moderator 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Neuropsychology and Applied Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, CAS Key Laboratory of Mental HealthInstitute of PsychologyBeijingChina
  2. 2.Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Department of Youth WorkChina Youth University for Political SciencesBeijingChina
  4. 4.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  5. 5.National Institute of Education SciencesBeijingChina
  6. 6.Menzies Health Institute Queensland and School of Applied PsychologyGriffith UniversityGold CoastAustralia
  7. 7.Department of Psychiatry and PsychologyMaastricht UniversityMaastrichtThe Netherlands

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