How does emotionality affect memory in children with autism?

Samantha Marie Meints, Purdue University


The purpose of the current study was to investigate the impact of emotionality on the memory of children with an autism spectrum disorder. Although emotional events enhance memory in adults and children without an autism spectrum disorder, there are different memory patterns among individuals on the autism spectrum. Specifically, individuals with autism may show a decreased advantage in memory for emotional content and may have deficits in memory for information that is not presented visually. Currently, however, there are no studies that look at how emotional content affects memory specifically in children with autism. In the current study, children with and without autism were presented with stimuli contrasting emotional and neutral content using one of two modalities, auditory and visual, and then completed memory recognition tasks for the stimuli. Results indicate that children with an autism spectrum disorder did not demonstrate enhanced memory for emotional information. Rather, they were equally able to remember emotional and neutral stimuli. Additionally, individuals on the spectrum demonstrated better memory for visual stimuli compared to their neurotypical peers. These results support the notion that individuals with an autism spectrum disorder may learn and remember material differently than those without the disorder and that educators need to acknowledge these differences as children with autism spectrum disorders continue to be integrated into classroom settings.




McGrew, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology

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