Rule learning in autism: the role of reward type and social context.
Learning abstract rules is central to social and cognitive development. Across two experiments, we used Delayed Non-Matching to Sample tasks to characterize the longitudinal development and nature of rule-learning impairments in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Results showed that children with ASD consistently experienced more difficulty learning an abstract rule from a discrete physical reward than children with DD. Rule learning was facilitated by the provision of more concrete reinforcement, suggesting an underlying difficulty in forming conceptual connections. Learning abstract rules about social stimuli remained challenging through late childhood, indicating the importance of testing executive functions in both social and non-social contexts.
Jones, EJH; Webb, SJ; Estes, A; Dawson, G
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