Attention, Memory, and Concepts in Autism
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In this paper, it is hypothesized that many of the behavioral abnormalities found in autistic persons result from deficits in fundamental cognitive abilities. Memory and attention are the most likely candidates. The memory deficit may be primarily one of retrieval, possibly exacerbated by an encoding deficit. However, both types of memory deficit are probably the result of a primary deficit in attention. This is supported by the observation that the autistic memory deficit resembles that following frontal lobe, rather than mediotemporal lobe, damage. This and other evidence is used to draw a parallel between autism and frontal lobe syndrome. In light of this analogy, how a primary deficit in the fundamental cognitive ability of attention may be responsible for the more secondary autistic deficits in memory and more advanced forms of cognition, such as language acquisition, symbol manipulation, rule extraction, and social interaction, is explored.
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