Increased discrimination of "false memories" in autism spectrum disorder

Academic Article


  • Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have impaired ability to use context, which may manifest as alterations of relatedness within the semantic network. However, impairment in context use may be more difficult to detect in high-functioning adults with ASD. To test context use in this population, we examined the influence of context on memory by using the "false memory" test. In the false memory task, lists of words were presented to high-functioning subjects with ASD and matched controls. Each list consists of words highly related to an index word not on the list. Subjects are then given a recognition test. Positive responses to the index words represent false memories. We found that individuals with ASD are able to discriminate false memory items from true items significantly better than are control subjects. Memory in patients with ASD may be more accurate than in normal individuals under certain conditions. These results also suggest that semantic representations comprise a less distributed network in high-functioning adults with ASD. Furthermore, these results may be related to the unusually high memory capacities found in some individuals with ASD. Research directed at defining the range of tasks performed superiorly by high-functioning individuals with ASD will be important for optimal vocational rehabilitation.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Beversdorf DQ; Smith BW; Crucian GP; Anderson JM; Keillor JM; Barrett AM; Hughes JD; Felopulos GJ; Bauman ML; Nadeau SE
  • Start Page

  • 8734
  • End Page

  • 8737
  • Volume

  • 97
  • Issue

  • 15