Set-shifting in children with autism spectrum disorders: Reversal shifting deficits on the intradimensional/extradimensional Shift Test correlate with repetitive behaviors

  • Yerys B
  • Wallace G
  • Harrison B
 et al. 
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Abstract

Research examining set-shifting has revealed significant difficulties for adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). However, research with high-functioning children with ASDs has yielded mixed results. The current study tested 6- to 13-year-old high-functioning children with ASD and typically developing controls matched on age, gender, and IQ using the Intradimensional/Extradimensional (ID/ED) Shift Test from the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery. Children with ASDs completed as many ED shifts and reversal ED shifts as controls; however, they made significantly more errors than controls while completing the ED reversal shifts. Analyses on a subset of cases revealed a significant positive correlation between ED reversal errors and the number of repetitive behavior symptoms in the ASD group. These findings suggest that high-functioning children with ASDs require additional feedback to shift successfully. In addition, the relationship between set-shifting and non-social symptoms suggests its utility as a potentially informative intermediate phenotype in ASDs.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Attention
  • Autism
  • ID/ED shift task
  • Set-shifting

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Authors

  • Benjamin YerysUniversity of Pennsylvania

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  • Gregory L. Wallace

  • Bryan Harrison

  • Mark J. Celano

  • Jay N. Giedd

  • Lauren E. Kenworthy

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