Children with ASD Show Impaired Item-Space Recollection, But Preserved Item-Color Recollection

Lindsey N. Mooney, Christine Wu Nordahl, Marjorie Solomon, Simona Ghetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Although individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have been often shown to display similar memory performance on semantic memory tasks compared to typically developing (TD) children, there is ongoing debate about whether and how their ability to remember specific past events (i.e., episodic memory) is impaired. We assessed a sample of 62 children with ASD and 72 TD children, ranging in age between 8 and 12 years on 2 memory tasks. Participants encoded a series of images and their association with either where they appeared on the screen (item-space association task) or with the color of an image's border (item-color association task). Children with ASD showed worse memory in the item-space association task compared to their TD peers, but comparable memory for the item-color association task. These differences persisted when age, intellectual quotient, and general item recognition memory were accounted for statistically. We interpret these results in light of evidence for specific deficits along the dorsal stream affecting processing of spatiotemporal information in ASD. Lay Summary: Episodic memory requires the ability to bind contextual details (such as color, location, etc.) to an item or event in order to remember the past with specific detail. Here, we compared children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and typically developing (TD) children on tasks examining episodic memory. Children with ASD recalled more poorly previously seen items and their associated space-related details, but they performed comparably to TD children on color details. We discuss the possible mechanisms that contribute to worse spatial processing/recall in ASD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAutism Research
StateAccepted/In press - 2020


  • ASD
  • episodic memory
  • global processing
  • middle childhood
  • signal detection theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Genetics(clinical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Children with ASD Show Impaired Item-Space Recollection, But Preserved Item-Color Recollection'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this