Visuospatial working memory in children with autism: The effect of a semantic global organization

Colin Hamilton, Irene Mammarella, David Giofrè, Sara Caviola, Cesare Comoldi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


It has been reported that individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) perceive visual scenes as a sparse set of details rather than as a congruent and meaningful unit, failing in the extraction of the global configuration of the scene. In the present study, children with ASD were compared with typically developing (TD) children, in a visuospatial working memory task, the Visual Patterns Test (VPT). The VPT array was manipulated to vary the semantic affordance of the pattern, high semantic (global) vs. low semantic; temporal parameters were also manipulated within the change detection protocol. Overall, there was no main effect associated with Group, however there was a significant effect associated with Semantics, which was further qualified by an interaction between the Group and Semantic factors; there was only a significant effect of semantics in the TD group. The findings are discussed in light of the weak central coherence theory where the ASD group are unable to make use of long term memory semantics in order to construct global representations of the array.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1349-1356
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2014


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