Spatial navigation from same and different directions: The role of executive functions, memory and attention in adults with autism spectrum disorder.

Ring, M., Gaigg, S.B., de Condappa, O., Wiener, J. and Bowler, D.M., 2018. Spatial navigation from same and different directions: The role of executive functions, memory and attention in adults with autism spectrum disorder. Autism Research, 11 (5), pp. 798-810.

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DOI: 10.1002/aur.1924

Abstract

To resolve some of the inconsistencies in existing research into spatial navigation in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), we tested two large age- and ability-matched groups of ASD and typically developing (TD) participants for their spatial navigation abilities in a route learning task, which has been shown to shed light on the strategies participants employ when navigating complex environments. Participants studied a route through a virtual maze by watching a short video of a first-person perspective navigating a maze. The maze included four four-way intersections that were each marked with two unique landmarks in two corners of the intersection. At test, static images of the intersections, either as seen during the video or as approached from a different direction, were presented and participants had to indicate in which direction they would need to travel (straight, left, or right) in order to follow the originally studied route. On both types of test trials, the ASD group performed worse and their difficulties were related to reduced cognitive flexibility. Eye-movement data and follow-up item-memory tests suggested that navigation difficulties may have been related to differences in attention during encoding and less spontaneous use of landmarks as cues for navigation. Spatial navigation performance was best predicted by memory for landmarks as well as by executive functions. The results are discussed in relation to theories of underlying navigation-related brain regions. More research is needed to disentangle the influence of executive functions, memory and attention on spatial navigation. LAY SUMMARY: Navigating an environment is difficult for people with ASD independent of whether they are travelling in the same or in a different direction from that which they originally studied. The present study suggests that flexibility in alternating travel directions, difficulties in remembering landmarks as well as reduced attention to landmarks while learning a route play a role in the navigation difficulties in ASD. Guidance at route learning might help autistic individuals to improve their ability to navigate in their environments.

Item Type:Article
ISSN:1939-3792
Additional Information:This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Ring, M., Gaigg, S. B., de Condappa, O., Wiener, J. M. and Bowler, D. M. (2018), Spatial navigation from same and different directions: The role of executive functions, memory and attention in adults with autism spectrum disorder. Autism Research, which has been published in final form at doi:10.1002/aur.1924. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
Uncontrolled Keywords:autism; executive function; eye movements; memory; spatial navigation; task support
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:30422
Deposited By: Unnamed user with email symplectic@symplectic
Deposited On:27 Feb 2018 11:02
Last Modified:26 Jun 2018 13:31

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