The relationship between executive functioning, central coherence, and repetitive behaviors in the high-functioning autism spectrum

Mikle South, Sally J Ozonoff, William M. Mcmahon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

121 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study examined the relationship between everyday repetitive behavior (primary symptoms of autism) and performance on neuropsychological tests of executive function and central coherence (secondary symptoms). It was hypothesized that the frequency and intensity of repetitive behavior would be positively correlated with laboratory measures of cognitive rigidity and weak central coherence. Participants included 19 individuals (ages 10-19) with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders (ASD group) and 18 age- and IQ-matched typically developing controls (TD group). There was partial support in the ASD group for the link between repetitive behavior and executive performance (the Wisconsin Card Sorting Task). There was no support for a link between repetitive behavior and measures of central coherence (a Gestalt Closure test and the Embedded Figures Test). Further research on repetitive behaviors in autism may benefit from a focus on narrow behavioral and cognitive constructs rather than general categories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-451
Number of pages15
JournalAutism
Volume11
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2007

Keywords

  • Autism
  • Central coherence
  • Executive function
  • Repetitive behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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