Defeasible reasoning in high-functioning adults with autism: evidence for impaired exception-handling.
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SourceNeuropsychologia, 47, 3, (2009), pp. 644-651
Article / Letter to editor
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Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging
PI Group Memory and Emotion
PI Group Neurobiology of Language
F.C. Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging
Subject110 000 Neurocognition of Language; 110 007 PLUS: A neurocomputational model for the Processing of Linguistic Utterances based on the Unification-Space architecture; 110 008 Reasoning and the Brain; 110 009 The human brain and Chinese prosody; 110 012 Social cognition of verbal communication; 110 013 Binding and the MUC-model; 110 014 Public activities; DCN 1: Perception and Action; NCEBP 9: Mental health
While autism is one of the most intensively researched psychiatric disorders, little is known about reasoning skills of people with autism. The focus of this study was on defeasible inferences, that is inferences that can be revised in the light of new information. We used a behavioral task to investigate (a) conditional reasoning and (b) the suppression of conditional inferences in high-functioning adults with autism. In the suppression task a possible exception was made salient which could prevent a conclusion from being drawn. We predicted that the autism group would have difficulties dealing with such exceptions because they require mental flexibility to adjust to the context, which is often impaired in autism. The findings confirm our hypothesis that high-functioning adults with autism have a specific difficulty with exception-handling during reasoning. It is suggested that defeasible reasoning is also involved in other cognitive domains. Implications for neural underpinnings of reasoning and autism are discussed.
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