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Goldsmiths - University of London

Executive functions in savant artists with autism

Crane, Laura; Pring, Linda; Ryder, Nicola and Hermelin, Beate. 2011. Executive functions in savant artists with autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 5(2), pp. 790-797. ISSN 17509467 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Although executive functions have been widely studied in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), there have been no direct empirical studies of executive abilities in savants with ASD. This study assessed three facets of executive ability (fluency, perseveration and monitoring) in savant artists with ASD, compared to non-talented adults with ASD or mild/moderate learning difficulties (MLD). Executive functions were assessed in and out of the savants’ domain of expertise: on design fluency and card sort tasks, respectively. The design fluency task suggested a sparing of executive abilities in the savant artists, relative to the non-talented ASD group; an effect not observed on the card sort task. The idea that islets of ability involve functions that are protected from more general cognitive deficits in ASD is explored.

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Date Deposited:

28 Mar 2011 14:08

Last Modified:

19 Mar 2019 11:48

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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