The ability to regulate behaviors and emotions depends in part on the ability to flexibly monitor one's own progress toward a goal. Atypical patterns of response monitoring have been reported in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). In the current study we examined the error related negativity (ERN), an electrophysiological index of response monitoring, in relation to behavioral, social cognitive, and emotional presentation in higher functioning children (8-16 years) diagnosed with autism (HFA: N = 38) and an age- and IQ-matched sample of children without autism (COM: N = 36). Both HFA and COM participants displayed larger amplitude responses to error compared to correct response trials and these amplitudes did not differ by diagnostic group. For participants with HFA, larger ERN amplitudes were associated with more parent-reported autistic symptoms and more self-reported internalizing problems. However, across the full sample, larger ERN amplitudes were associated with better performance on theory of mind tasks. The results are discussed in terms of the utility of electrophysiological measures for understanding essential moderating processes that contribute to the spectrum of behavioral expression in the development of ASD.
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