The paradox of cognitive flexibility in autism

Hilde M. Geurts, Blythe Corbett, Marjorie Solomon Friedman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

284 Scopus citations


We present an overview of current literature addressing cognitive flexibility in autism spectrum disorders. Based on recent studies at multiple sites, using diverse methods and participants of different autism subtypes, ages and cognitive levels, no consistent evidence for cognitive flexibility deficits was found. Researchers and clinicians assume that inflexible everyday behaviors in autism are directly related to cognitive flexibility deficits as assessed by clinical and experimental measures. However, there is a large gap between the day-to-day behavioral flexibility and that measured with these cognitive flexibility tasks. To advance the field, experimental measures must evolve to reflect mechanistic models of flexibility deficits. Moreover, ecologically valid measures are required to be able to resolve the paradox between cognitive and behavioral inflexibility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-82
Number of pages9
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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