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Verbal Memory and Performance IQ Predict Theory of Mind and Emotion Recognition Ability in Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders and in Psychiatric Control Children

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This study was designed to examine the developmental and cognitive correlates of theory of mind (ToM) and emotion recognition ability in children with autism (N= 20), with pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) (N= 20), and in psychiatric control children (N= 20). The diagnostic groups were person-to-person matched on age and verbal IQ. The age of the children was between 8 and 18 years; their Full Scale IQ was at least 65. The test battery included tasks for the matching and the context recognition of emotional expressions, and a set of first- and second-order ToM tasks. The relationships between composite domain scores and the subjects' age, Verbal IQ, Performance IQ, verbal memory, visual memory, and gender were examined in bivariate and multivariate analyses. Further, the subjects who reliably and consistently passed the tasks of a domain and those who could not were compared on developmental and cognitive characteristics. Overall, the results of the various analyses converged and indicated that verbal memory, Performance IQ, age and gender were the best predictors of social cognitive ability.
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Keywords: Autistic disorder; emotion recognition; intelligence; memory; pervasive developmental disorder; theory of mind

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Utrecht, The Netherlands

Publication date: September 1, 1999

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