Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

The Matrix Of Autism

Date:
August 5, 2007
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Autistic children are doubly stigmatized. On the one hand, they are often dismissed as "low functioning" or mentally retarded, especially if they have poor speaking skills as many do. But when they display exceptional visual discrimination or memory for detail, they are dubbed "savants." New research in Psychological Science is discovering the level and nature of autistic intelligence.

Autistic children are doubly stigmatized. On the one hand, they are often dismissed as "low functioning" or mentally retarded, especially if they have poor speaking skills as many do.

Related Articles


Yet when autistics do show exceptional abilities--uncanny visual discrimination and memory for detail, for example--their flashes of brilliance are marginalized as aberrations, mere symptoms of their higher order cognitive deficit. They often earn a dubious promotion to "idiot savant."

The theoretical justification for this view is that prototypical autistic skills are not true intelligence at all, but really just low-level perceptual abilities. Indeed, in this view autistics are missing the big picture because they are obsessed with the detail.

But is this true? Are autistics really incapable of abstraction and integration and other high-level thinking? Surprisingly, given how pervasive this view of autism is, it has never been rigorously tested. But a team of scientists in Canada suspected that the tests themselves might be biased and decided to explore the idea in the lab.

Led by psychologist Laurent Mottron of the University of Montreal, the team gave both autistic kids and normal kids two of the most popular IQ tests used in schools. The two tests are both highly regarded, but they are very different. The so-called WISC relies heavily on language, which is why the psychologists were suspicious of it. The other, known as the Raven's Progressive Matrices, is considered the preeminent test of what's called "fluid intelligence," that is, the ability to infer rules, to set and manage goals, to do high-level abstractions. Basically the test presents arrays of complicated patterns with one missing, and test takers are required to choose the one that would logically complete the series. The test demands a good memory, focused attention and other "executive skills," but--unlike the WISC--it doesn't require much language.

The idea was that the autistic kids' true intelligence might shine through if they could bypass the language deficit. And that's exactly what happened.

The difference between their scores on the WISC and the Raven's test was striking: For example, not a single autistic child scored in the "high intelligence" range of the WISC, yet fully a third did on the Raven's. Similarly, a third of the autistics had WISC scores in the mentally retarded range, whereas only one in 20 scored that low on the Raven's test. The normal kids had basically the same results on both tests.

The scientists ran the same experiment with autistic and normal adults, with the same result. As they report in the August issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, these findings speak not only to the level of autistic intelligence but to the nature of autistic intelligence.

While it is probably true that autistics possess extraordinary perceptual skills, and that they use unique cognitive pathways for problem solving, their intelligence clearly goes far beyond rote memory and perception to include complex reasoning ability. That won't come as any surprise to Michelle Dawson, who is autistic. She is also a scientific collaborator on this study.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "The Matrix Of Autism." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 August 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070803151245.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2007, August 5). The Matrix Of Autism. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070803151245.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "The Matrix Of Autism." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070803151245.htm (accessed March 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AP (Mar. 25, 2015) While distracted driving is not a new problem for teens, new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says it&apos;s much more serious than previously thought. (March 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 25, 2015) European researchers say our smartphone use offers scientists an ideal testing ground for human brain plasticity. Dr Ako Ghosh&apos;s team discovered that the brains and thumbs of smartphone users interact differently from those who use old-fashioned handsets. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Newsy (Mar. 24, 2015) According to a new study by the Alzheimer&apos;s Association, more than half of those who have the degenerative brain disease aren&apos;t told by their doctors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

Newsy (Mar. 23, 2015) Researchers found those who napped for 45 minutes to an hour before being tested on information recalled it five times better than those who didn&apos;t. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins