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Motor-linked implicit learning in persons with autism spectrum disorders



Fifteen adolescents and young adults with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and 18 age- and IQ-matched adults with typical development (TD) completed a serial reaction time task (SRT) to examine possible motor-linked implicit learning impairments in persons with ASD. Measures were taken to decrease the role of explicit learning in the SRT. Results showed that participants with ASD demonstrated intact motor-linked implicit learning. Furthermore, the motor-linked implicit learning appeared to take place at a similar rate across trials in the group with ASD compared to the group with TD. These results suggest that persons with ASD are successful in implicit learning of motor-linked behavior. The results of this study, coupled with past findings, suggest that people with ASD may be able to learn motor movements without conscious awareness, especially if the individual is older and is learning fine motor sequences.