Spatial working memory deficits in autism

Shelly D. Steele, Nancy J. Minshew, Beatriz Luna, John A. Sweeney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

167 Scopus citations


Previous studies have reported working memory deficits in autism, but this finding has been inconsistent. One possibility is that deficits in this domain may be present only when working memory load exceeds some limited capacity. High-functioning individuals with autism performed the CANTAB computerized test of spatial working memory. Individuals with autism made more errors than a matched group of typically developing controls on this task, and were less likely to consistently use a specific organized search strategy to complete the task. Overall, these results demonstrate reduced spatial working memory abilities in autism, and extend previous findings by demonstrating that these deficits are significant when tasks impose heavier demands on working memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)605-612
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2007


  • Cognition
  • Executive function
  • Frontal lobes
  • High functioning autism
  • Neuropsychology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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