Negative emotion does not enhance recall skills in adults with autistic spectrum disorders

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Abstract

Recent empirical findings suggest a significant influence of emotion on memory processes. Surprisingly, although emotion-processing difficulties appear to be a hallmark feature in autism spectrum disorders (ASD), their impact on higher-level cognitive functions, such as memory, has not been directly studied in this population. The aim of this study was to address this issue by assessing whether the emotional valence of visual scenes affects recall skills in high-functioning individuals with ASD. To this purpose, their recall performance of neutral and emotional pictures was compared with that of typically developing adults (control group). Results revealed that while typically developing individuals showed enhanced recall skills for negative relative to positive and neutral pictures, individuals with ASD recalled the neutral pictures as well as the emotional ones. Findings of this study thus point to reduced influence of emotion on memory processes in ASD than in typically developing individuals, possibly owing to amygdala dysfunctions.

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