The specificity of inhibitory impairments in autism and their relation to ADHD-type symptoms

J Autism Dev Disord. 2013 May;43(5):1065-79. doi: 10.1007/s10803-012-1650-5.


Findings on inhibitory control in autism have been inconsistent. This is perhaps a reflection of the different tasks that have been used. Children with autism (CWA) and typically developing controls, matched for verbal and non-verbal mental age, completed three tasks of inhibition, each representing different inhibitory subcomponents: Go/No-Go (delay inhibition), Dog-Pig Stroop (conflict inhibition), and a Flanker task (resistance to distractor inhibition). Behavioural ratings of inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity were also obtained, as a possible source of heterogeneity in inhibitory ability. CWA were only impaired on the conflict inhibition task, suggesting that inhibitory difficulty is not a core executive deficit in autism. Symptoms of inattention were related to conflict task performance, and thus may be an important predictor of inhibitory heterogeneity.

MeSH terms

  • Attention
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology*
  • Autistic Disorder / psychology*
  • Child
  • Executive Function*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reaction Time