Stop and change: inhibition and flexibility skills are related to repetitive behavior in children and young adults with autism spectrum disorders

J Autism Dev Disord. 2015 Oct;45(10):3148-58. doi: 10.1007/s10803-015-2473-y.


Cognitive control dysfunctions, like inhibitory and attentional flexibility deficits are assumed to underlie repetitive behavior in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). In the present study, prepotent response inhibition and attentional flexibility were examined in 64 high-functioning individuals with ASD and 53 control participants. Performance under different task conditions were tested both in response to visual and auditory information, and requiring a motor or verbal response. Individuals with ASD showed significant more control dysfunctions than typically developing participants on the auditory computer task. Inhibitory control and attentional flexibility predicted RRB in everyday life. Specifically, response inhibition in reaction to visual information and task switching in reaction to auditory information predicted motor and sensory stereotyped behavior.

Keywords: Auditory information; Autism spectrum disorders; Flexibility; Inhibition; Repetitive behaviors.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Male
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Stereotyped Behavior*