The Neuropsychology of Male Adults With High-Functioning Autism or Asperger Syndrome

Authors

  • C. Ellie Wilson,

    Corresponding author
    1. Sackler Institute for Translational Neurodevelopment, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, London, United Kingdom
    • Address for correspondence and reprints: Ellie C. Wilson, Institute of Psychiatry, Forensic and Neurodevelopmental Science, Kings College London, Denmark Hill, London SE5 8AF, United Kingdom. E-mail: ellie.wilson@kcl.ac.uk

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    • Joint first authors
  • Francesca Happé,

    1. Sackler Institute for Translational Neurodevelopment, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, London, United Kingdom
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    • Joint first authors
  • Sally J. Wheelwright,

    1. Autism Research Centre, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
    2. Cancer Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom
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  • Christine Ecker,

    1. Sackler Institute for Translational Neurodevelopment, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, London, United Kingdom
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  • Michael V. Lombardo,

    1. Autism Research Centre, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
    2. Department of Psychology, University of Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus
    3. Center for Applied Neuroscience, University of Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus
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  • Patrick Johnston,

    1. Sackler Institute for Translational Neurodevelopment, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, London, United Kingdom
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  • Eileen Daly,

    1. Sackler Institute for Translational Neurodevelopment, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, London, United Kingdom
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  • Clodagh M. Murphy,

    1. Sackler Institute for Translational Neurodevelopment, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, London, United Kingdom
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  • Debbie Spain,

    1. Sackler Institute for Translational Neurodevelopment, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, London, United Kingdom
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  • Meng-Chuan Lai,

    1. Autism Research Centre, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
    2. Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan
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  • Bhismadev Chakrabarti,

    1. Autism Research Centre, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
    2. School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading, Berkshire, United Kingdom
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  • Disa A. Sauter,

    1. Department of Social Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
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  • MRC AIMS Consortium,

    1. Sackler Institute for Translational Neurodevelopment, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, London, United Kingdom
    2. Autism Research Centre, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
    3. Autism Research Group, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
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    • MRC AIMS is a UK collaboration between the Institute of Psychiatry (IoP) at King's College, London, the Autism Research Centre, University of Cambridge, and the Autism Research Group, University of Oxford. The Consortium members are in alphabetical order: Anthony J. Bailey (Oxford), Simon Baron-Cohen (Cambridge), Patrick F. Bolton (IoP), Edward T. Bullmore (Cambridge), Sarah Carrington (Oxford), Marco Catani (IoP), Bhismadev Chakrabarti (Cambridge), Michael C. Craig (IoP), Eileen M. Daly (IoP), Sean C. L. Deoni (IoP), Christine Ecker (IoP), Francesca Happé (IoP), Julian Henty (Cambridge), Peter Jezzard (Oxford), Patrick Johnston (IoP), Derek K. Jones (IoP), Meng-Chuan Lai (Cambridge), Michael V. Lombardo (Cambridge), Anya Madden (IoP), Diane Mullins (IoP), Clodagh M. Murphy (IoP), Declan G. M. Murphy (IoP), Greg Pasco (Cambridge), Amber N. V. Ruigrok (Cambridge), Susan A. Sadek (Cambridge), Debbie Spain (IoP), Rose Stewart (Oxford), John Suckling (Cambridge), Sally J. Wheelwright (Cambridge), and Steven C. Williams (IoP).
  • Simon Baron-Cohen,

    1. Autism Research Centre, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
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    • Joint senior authors
  • Declan G. M. Murphy

    1. Sackler Institute for Translational Neurodevelopment, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, London, United Kingdom
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  • This article was published online on 5 June 2014. Subsequently, it was determined that Dr. Lai's affiliation was incorrect, and the correction was published on 13 June 2014.

Abstract

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is diagnosed on the basis of behavioral symptoms, but cognitive abilities may also be useful in characterizing individuals with ASD. One hundred seventy-eight high-functioning male adults, half with ASD and half without, completed tasks assessing IQ, a broad range of cognitive skills, and autistic and comorbid symptomatology. The aims of the study were, first, to determine whether significant differences existed between cases and controls on cognitive tasks, and whether cognitive profiles, derived using a multivariate classification method with data from multiple cognitive tasks, could distinguish between the two groups. Second, to establish whether cognitive skill level was correlated with degree of autistic symptom severity, and third, whether cognitive skill level was correlated with degree of comorbid psychopathology. Fourth, cognitive characteristics of individuals with Asperger Syndrome (AS) and high-functioning autism (HFA) were compared. After controlling for IQ, ASD and control groups scored significantly differently on tasks of social cognition, motor performance, and executive function (P's < 0.05). To investigate cognitive profiles, 12 variables were entered into a support vector machine (SVM), which achieved good classification accuracy (81%) at a level significantly better than chance (P < 0.0001). After correcting for multiple correlations, there were no significant associations between cognitive performance and severity of either autistic or comorbid symptomatology. There were no significant differences between AS and HFA groups on the cognitive tasks. Cognitive classification models could be a useful aid to the diagnostic process when used in conjunction with other data sources—including clinical history. Autism Res 2014, 7: 568–581. © 2014 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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