Neuropsychological differences between Asperger syndrome and high functioning autism
43.423, Monday, May 13, 8:30 am - 12:30 pm, Orchid Ballroom
Elaine Zachi1, Dora Ventura1; 1Experimental Psychology, Institute of Psychology, Sao Paulo University
The assumption that Asperger Syndrome (AS) and high functioning autism (HFA) are quantitative manifestations of the same disorder, proposed in the DSM-V to be published in 2013, today remains somewhat controversial. The purpose of this study was to examine possible differences between AS and HFA patients concerning visual cognitive function and behavior. Six AS patients (males, age range: 7-11 years old), 12 HFA patients (males, 6-12 years old) and 25 controls (males, 6-13 years old) were tested. Diagnosis was made by psychiatrists from the Psychiatric Institute of the University of São Paulo with basis on DSM-IV criteria. General intelligence was evaluated by the Raven Matrices Test. Cognitive performance was assessed with the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB), using tests of sustained visual attention (Rapid Visual Information Processing, RVP), short-term spatial memory (Spatial Recognition Memory, SRM), short and long-term visual memory (Pattern Recognition Memory, PRM), and visual memory for complex stimuli (Delayed Matching to Sample, DMS). The Child Behavior Checklist was used for behavioral evaluation. Intellectual scores were within the normal range among participants, and there were no significant differences between groups (Kruskal-Wallis ANOVA, p>0.05). HFA participants performed significantly worse than AS patients and controls on Pattern Recognition Memory long term recall, Spatial Span backwards, and Spatial Recognition Memory test (p<0.05). Compared to HFA patients and controls, AS patients showed elevated anxiety/depression scores on CBCL (p<0.01). AS and HFA patients presented distinct visual memory profiles. Higher anxiety/depression symptoms in the AS group may reflect self-consciousness of difficulty in sociability. This study supports the view that AS and HFS are qualitatively distinct disorders.