A Meta-Analysis of Working Memory Impairments in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Ya Wang*, Yi-bing Zhang, Lu-lu Liu, Ji-fang Cui, Jing Wang, David H. K. Shum, Therese van Amelsvoort, Raymond C. K. Chan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

82 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are characterized by executive dysfunction, and working memory (WM) comprises one core component of executive function. Many studies have investigated WM impairments in individuals with ASD, however, a conclusive agreement has not been reached. The present study provided a meta-analytic review of WM impairments in individuals with ASD and evaluated potential moderating variables of this problem. Twenty-eight studies were included in this study, and the participants comprised 819 individuals with ASD and 875 healthy controls. A significant WM impairment (Cohen's d = -0.61) was identified in the individuals with ASD, however, this impairment was not associated with age. Results of moderation analyses showed that (a) spatial WM was more severely impaired than verbal WM and (b) the component of cognitive processing (maintenance vs. maintenance plus manipulation) did not affect the severity of WM impairments. These findings suggest that WM is impaired in individuals with ASD and may have implications for interventions related to WM impairments in these individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-61
Number of pages16
JournalNeuropsychology Review
Volume27
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017

Keywords

  • Working memory
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Meta-analysis
  • Moderator
  • HIGH-FUNCTIONING AUTISM
  • DIAGNOSTIC OBSERVATION SCHEDULE
  • SCHOOL-AGE-CHILDREN
  • EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONS
  • IMPAIRED MEMORY
  • ASPERGER SYNDROME
  • SOCIAL DEFICITS
  • ADULTS
  • BRAIN
  • DYSFUNCTION

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