A review of intentional and cognitive control in autism
SourceFrontiers in Psychology, 3, (2012), article 436
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ DCC CO
Frontiers in Psychology
SubjectAction, intention, and motor control; DI-BCB_DCC_Theme 2: Perception, Action and Control
Different clinical studies have provided empirical evidence for impairments in cognitive control in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The challenge arises, however, when trying to specify the neurocognitive mechanisms behind the reported observations of deviant patterns of goal-directed behavior in ASD. Studies trying to test specific assumptions by applying designs that are based on a more controlled experimental conditions often fail in providing strong evidence for an impairment in specific cognitive functions. In this review, we summarize and critically reflect on behavioral findings and their theoretical explanations regarding cognitive control processing in autism, also from a developmental perspective. The specific focus of this review is the recent evidence of deficits in intentional control – a specific subset of cognitive control processes that biases the choice of our behavioral goals – coming from different research fields. We relate this evidence to the cognitive rigidity observed in ASD and argue that individuals with ASD experience problems at the intentional level rather than at the level of implementation of intentions. Both these processes are related to cognitive control mechanisms but in different ways. Finally, we discuss new directions in studying cognitive control in ASD and how these relate to adaptive cognition.
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