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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

July 1997, Vol. 9, No. 4, Pages 548-554
(doi: 10.1162/jocn.1997.9.4.548)
© 1997 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Parents of Children with Asperger Syndrome: What is the Cognitive Phenotype?
Article PDF (1.22 MB)

Two cognitive anomalies have been found in autism: a superiority on the Embedded Figures Task and a deficit in “theory of mind.” Using adult-level versions of these tasks, the present study investigated if parents of children with Asperger Syndrome might show a mild variant of these anomalies, as might be predicted from a genetic hypothesis. Significant differences were found on both measures. Parents were significantly faster than controls on the Embedded Figures Task and slightly but significantly less accurate at interpreting photographs of the eye region of the face in terms of mental states. The results are discussed in terms of the broader cognitive phenotype of Asperger Syndrome and in terms of their implications for cognitive neuroscientific theories of the condition.