Memory, language and intellectual ability in low-functioning autism

  • Boucher J
  • Mayes A
  • Bigham S
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Abstract

(from the chapter) In this chapter we pursue Bailey et al.'s suggestion by developing the hypothesis outlined towards the end of Mayes and Boucher, this volume, Chapter 3, that a pervasive impairment of declarative memory is a critical cause of both the language impairment and the impairment of verbal intelligence (and hence overall intellectual disability) in people with low-functioning autism (LFA). This hypothesis builds on suggestions by Bachevalier (1994; also this volume, Chapter 2) and Bauman and Kemper (2004), and is consistent with the model of autism proposed in Boucher et al. (2005; see also Ben Shalom, 2003; Faran and Ben Shalom, this volume, Chapter 5). According to this model, the socioemotional impairments of autism are associated with the disruption of co-ordinated activity between amygdala and prefrontal structures, and the additional language and learning impairments in LFA are associated with a disruption of co-ordinated hippocampal-parahippocampal and prefrontal activity. The relative sparing of procedural memory, and the resulting over-dependence on its use, can help to explain some of the repetitive behaviors diagnostic of autism-a suggestion also made by Bauman and Kemper (2004). The chapter is in three main sections. The first section covers what has to be explained in terms of the typical profiles of linguistic and intellectual abilities in individuals with LFA. In the second section we present our hypothesis, and suggest how it may explain the linguistic and intellectual ability profiles described, finishing with a short review of evidence relating to declarative memory in LFA. In the third section we consider other explanations of the language and intellectual impairments in LFA, and suggest how our hypothesis may relate to these theories. The chapter concludes with a short summary. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).

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Authors

  • Jill Boucher

  • Andrew Mayes

  • Sally Bigham

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