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Toward a better understanding of the cognitive challenges adults with ASD face

New work conducted jointly by the Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment in the United States, and City, sheds light on the issue.

by Shamim Quadir (Senior Communications Officer)

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the name for a range of similar conditions, including Asperger syndrome, that affect a person's social interaction, communication, behaviour and interests.

The term ‘cognition’ is used to describe the processes in our minds which allow us to gain knowledge and understanding about the world, such as our thought processes and memory.

‘Social cognition’ describes any cognitive process in a person’s mind that involves other people.

Published in the journal, JAMA Psychiatry, researchers from the Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment at Mount Sinai in the US, and City, University of London, have conducted the first comprehensive, systematic review and meta-analysis of research into the cognition of adults with ASD with an intact IQ.

This means they collected together a large number of studies on the subject, and combined and analysed data from these studies to help them form wider conclusions.

The work suggests that adults with ASD and an intact IQ have medium to large impairments in two key social cognitive domains (theory of mind, emotion perception and knowledge) and two key non-social cognitive domains (processing speed, verbal learning and memory).

The researchers argue that although their findings largely support the main theories on social-cognitive treatments for adults with ASD, they point to the importance of a broader approach which also includes support for non-social cognitive domains, and which may help target new interventions.

To find out more about the research, read the press release from Mount Sinai.

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