Some autistic people have memory advantage for certain tasks

A new study suggests that some people with autism may have a better memory when performing certain tasks than do non-autistic people.

Researchers found that subjects with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) performed better on a "false-memory" test than did normal control subjects. People with ASD have an impaired ability to use context; in this case, that inability improved the ASD subjects' ability to recognize which words had been on a word list.

The normal subjects were more apt to have false memories - they thought that they recognized words that were in fact not on the list. But these "wrong" words tended to fit the context of the list.

"The false-memory test is a good way to detect impairments in context," said David Beversdorf, co-author of the study and an assistant professor of neurology at Ohio State University. "The test taker does better if he doesn't use context."

The research appeared in a recent issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. The results may help point the way to jobs that are more ideally suited for the memory abilities of people with ASD.

The researchers enlisted eight adults with ASD and 16 non-autistic adult controls in the study. All subjects took a "false memory" test: they listened to a total of 12 words from each of 24 word lists and, after hearing each list, were asked whether or not certain words had been on the list.

For example, the subjects heard the following l

Contact: David Beversdorf
Ohio State University

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