City Research Online

Children with Autism do not Show Sequence Effects with Auditory Stimuli

Molesworth, C. J., Chevalier, C., Happe, F. & Hampton, J. A. (2015). Children with Autism do not Show Sequence Effects with Auditory Stimuli. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 144(1), pp. 48-57. doi: 10.1037/a0038204


Categorization decisions that reflect constantly changing memory representations may be an important adaptive response to dynamic environments. We assessed one such influence from memory, sequence effects, on categorization decisions made by individuals with autism. A model of categorization (i.e. Memory and Contrast model, Stewart, Brown, & Chater, 2002) assumes that contextual influences in the form of sequence effects drive categorization performance in individuals with typical development. Difficulties with contextual processing in autism, described by the weak central coherence account (Frith, 1989; Frith & Happé, 1994) imply reduced sequence effects for this participant group. The experiment reported here tested this implication. High functioning children and adolescents with autism (aged 10 to 15 years), matched on age and IQ with typically developing children, completed a test that measures sequence effects (i.e. category contrast effect task, Stewart et al., 2002) using auditory tones. Participants also completed a pitch discrimination task to measure any potential confound arising from possible enhanced discrimination sensitivity within the ASD group. The typically developing group alone demonstrated a category contrast effect. The data suggest that this finding cannot be attributed readily to participant group differences in discrimination sensitivity, perseveration, difficulties on the associated binary categorization task, or greater reliance upon long term memory. We discuss the broad methodological implication that comparison between autism and control group responses to sequential perceptual stimuli may be confounded by the influence of preceding trials. We also discuss implications for the weak central coherence account and models of typical cognition.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright APA 2014. This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.
Publisher Keywords: Autism, categorization, pitch discrimination, sequence effects, weak central coherence
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of Sequence_Effects.pdf]
PDF - Accepted Version
Download (274kB) | Preview


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login