Are Restricted and Repetitive Behaviours Related to Executive Function Performance? a Correlational Meta-Analysis.
Objectives: This meta-analysis (following recommendations from Quintana, 2015) will allow us to examine the general EF hypothesis, but also identify whether the link between RRBs and EF skills is a general one, or if it is caused by one specific mechanism.
Methods: Following a comprehensive search in three databases, three random-effects analyses were run. The set-shifting analysis consisted of 20 studies (with 26 correlations) and a sample size of 869. The inhibitory control analysis comprised of 14 studies (with 17 correlations) and a sample size of 664. Finally, the parental-report analysis included 8 studies (with 12 correlations) and a sample size of 1362. Moderators such as age, diagnosis, EF task and type of RRB measure were investigated.
Results: The analyses found significant but moderate associations between RRBs and set-shifting performance (.27, 95% CI 0.17-0.41, p< 0.0001), inhibitory control performance (.20, 95% CI 0.02- 0.37, p 0.02) and scores on parental-report measures (.31, 95% CI 0.0736-0.5514, p <0.001). We found that for set-shifting tasks and parental-scores; the association remained stable with age, between diagnoses and across different types of EF and RRB measures. In contrast, the relationship between RRBs and inhibitory control performance was moderated by age and diagnosis.
Conclusions: This meta-analysis offers support for the EF hypothesis, and suggests that at least two cognitive mechanisms may underpin the high RRB levels in individuals with ASD, as well as in young children. The relationship between cognitive skills and behaviours may have clinical training implications so directions for future intervention research will be proposed.
See more of: Sensory, Motor, and Repetitive Behaviors and Interests