Nonverbal Short-Term Serial Order Memory in Autism Spectrum Disorder

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To clarify the role of item and order memory in the serial recall of adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), we carried out 2 experiments in which adults with ASD and comparison participants matched on chronological age and verbal IQ saw sequences of 7 dots appear sequentially in a 3 × 4 grid. In Experiment 1 (serial recall), they had to recall the locations and the presentation order of the dots by tapping locations on an empty grid. In Experiment 2, (order reconstruction) the studied dots were provided at test and participants had to touch them in their order of appearance at study. Experiment 1 revealed diminished item and order recall in the ASD group; Experiment 2 revealed diminished order recall only when verbal IQ was controlled. The results support the view that people with ASD have particular difficulty with serial order recall but may use their language ability to achieve better serial recall performance.

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