Executive function deficits in high-functioning autistic individuals: relationship to theory of mind

J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 1991 Nov;32(7):1081-105. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.1991.tb00351.x.


A group of high-functioning autistic individuals was compared to a clinical control group matched on VIQ, age, sex and SES. Significant group differences were found on executive function, theory of mind, emotion perception and verbal memory tests, but not on spatial or other control measures. Second-order theory of mind and executive function deficits were widespread among the autistic group, while first-order theory of mind deficits were found in only a subset of the sample. The relationship of executive function and theory of mind deficits to each other, and their primacy to autism, are discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Autistic Disorder / psychology*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intelligence
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Models, Psychological
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Perception
  • Problem Solving
  • Psychological Tests*
  • Task Performance and Analysis