Metacognition and behavioral regulation predict distinct aspects of social functioning in autism spectrum disorder

Academic Article


  • Executive function (EF) deficits are common in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and previous studies suggest that EF may influence or predict social functioning. Thus, EF is a potential treatment target in this population. However, the nature of how specific metacognition and behavioral regulation components of EF may differentially impact social function remains unclear. The goal of the current study was to examine the relationships between sub-components of EF (e.g., working memory, shifting, inhibition, etc.) and social functioning as measured by parent ratings on the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Functioning (BRIEF) and the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS), while controlling for the influence of age, sex, and IQ. A second goal was to examine whether BRIEF scores were predictive of clinician-rated measures of ASD symptoms. Behavioral data were acquired from the Autism Brain Imaging Data Exchange-II database and included 106 children with ASD (ages 5–13). Based on analysis of parent ratings, self-monitoring skills predicted social awareness; shifting ability predicted social cognition; working memory and monitoring skills predicted social communication; initiation predicted social motivation; and shifting ability predicted restrictive and repetitive behaviors among children with ASD. Parent ratings on the BRIEF did not predict clinician-rated measures of ASD symptoms; this requires further study. Overall, the current findings indicate that metacognition and behavioral regulation both contribute to social functioning in ASD, although they each have distinct patterns of influence on different aspects of social functioning. These findings have promising implications for tailoring social interventions for ASD that target specific EF skills.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Bednarz HM; Trapani JA; Kana RK
  • Start Page

  • 953
  • End Page

  • 981
  • Volume

  • 26
  • Issue

  • 7