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Links between theory of mind and executive function in young children with autism : Clues to developmental primacy

Pellicano, L; (2007) Links between theory of mind and executive function in young children with autism : Clues to developmental primacy. Developmental Psychology , 43 (4) pp. 974-990. 10.1037/0012-1649.43.4.974. Green open access

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Abstract

There has been much theoretical discussion of a functional link between theory of mind (ToM) and executive function (EF) in autism. This study sought to establish the relationship between ToM and EF in young children with autism (M = 5 years, 6 months) and to examine issues of developmental primacy. Thirty children with autism and 40 typically developing children, matched on age and ability, were assessed on a battery of tasks measuring ToM (1st- and 2nd-order false belief) and components of EF (planning, set shifting, inhibition). A significant correlation emerged between ToM and EF variables in the autism group, independent of age and ability, while ToM and higher order planning ability remained significantly related in the comparison group. Examination of the pattern of ToM-EF impairments in the autism group revealed dissociations in 1 direction only: impaired ToM with intact EF. These findings support the view that EF may be 1 important factor in the advancement of ToM understanding in autism. The theoretical implications of these findings are discussed.

Type: Article
Title: Links between theory of mind and executive function in young children with autism : Clues to developmental primacy
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1037/0012-1649.43.4.974
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.43.4.974
Language: English
Additional information: © 2007 APA, all rights reserved. This article may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Social Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1475262
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