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17-02-2016 | Original Paper | Uitgave 6/2016 Open Access

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 6/2016

Theory of Mind and Executive Control Deficits in Typically Developing Adults and Adolescents with High Levels of Autism Traits

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders > Uitgave 6/2016
Elif Gökçen, Norah Frederickson, K. V. Petrides


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterised by profound difficulties in empathic processing and executive control. Whilst the links between these processes have been frequently investigated in populations with autism, few studies have examined them at the subclinical level. In addition, the contribution of alexithymia, a trait characterised by impaired interoceptive awareness and empathy, and elevated in those with ASD, is currently unclear. The present two-part study employed a comprehensive battery of tasks to examine these processes. Findings support the notion that executive function and theory of mind are related abilities. They also suggest that individuals with elevated levels of autism-like traits experience a partially similar pattern of social and executive function difficulties to those diagnosed with ASD, and that these impairments are not explained by co-occurring alexithymia.

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