Study of Working Memory in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Several studies describe an alteration of executive functions in children with ASD with consequences on their functioning. However, few research demonstrate a profile of working memory on both the auditory and visual side, and examines correlations with social and behavioral alterations.
Objectives: The purpose of our study is to reveal a profile of auditory and visual working memory in children with ASD. Then, to study the correlations between the working memory capacities and the alterations of communication, social interactions and adaptive behaviors
The population of this research is composed of 27 children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Patients were recruited from the « Autism Resource Centre » of Child Psychiatric Unit of Hospital in Marseille (France).The average chronological age of the group is 10 years and 4 months, the average cognitive level is 105. Children’s parents were assessed with the ADI-R (Autism Diagnostic Interview Revised). The children were assessed with ADOS-2, the Vineland 2 and the WISC 5.
Comparative analyzes demonstrate a better visual working memory than auditory working memory. The profile of the auditory memory shows that the immediate auditory memory is the most efficient. The results show that the more auditory working memory has to mentalize information manipulation the less it performs.
The correlation analyzes reveal positive correlations between auditory and visual work memories and autonomy abilities in everyday life. There is also a positive correlation between immediate auditory memory and communication abnormalities. The results show negative correlations between visual working memory and anomalies in social interactions, and a negative correlation between mental manipulation abilities and behavioral abnormalities
These results demonstrate a specific working memory profile in ASD with a visual memory more powerful than the auditory memory. In general, working memory seems to be particularly related to the autonomous capacities of everyday life. The results also show specific links between the type of working memory, the possibilities of adaptations and the anomalies of communication, social interactions and behavior.