“Social and Pragmatic Deficits in Autism: Cognitive or Affective?”

University College, London.
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (Impact Factor: 3.34). 10/1988; 18(3):379-402. DOI: 10.1007/BF02212194
Source: PubMed


Autism is characterized by a chronic, severe impairment in social relations. Recent studies of language in autism also show pervasive deficits in pragmatics. We assume, uncontroversially, that these two deficits are linked, since pragmatics is part of social competence. This paper reviews the literature describing these deficits, and then considers two different psychological theories of these phenomena: the Affective theory and the Cognitive theory. Although the Affective theory makes better sense of the results from emotional recognition tasks, the Cognitive theory predicts the particular pattern of impaired and unimpaired social skills in autism, as well as the pragmatic deficits. These two theories might usefully be integrated in the future.

Download full-text


Available from: Simon Baron-Cohen,
1,437 Reads
    • "In comparison, children later diagnosed with ASD have an observed lack of interest in faces, as evident in the absence of gaze fixation and eye contact (Dalton et al., 2005; Folstein & Rosen- Sheidley, 2001; Schultz, 2005). As a result, children with ASD are described as looking through people, rather than at people; therefore lacking the interpersonal contact, joint attention, and understanding associated with the development of language pragmatics (Baron-Cohen, 1988; Mundy et al., 1990). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is one of the most common forms of developmental disabilities of childhood, rooted in atypical language and social development, in conjunction with repetitive and patterned behaviors. It is also suggested that gross and fine motor impairments are a core feature of ASD, are more prevalent in comparison to the general population, and may be further exaggerated due to reduced participation in physical activity. As awareness for ASD has increased, so have the number of therapeutic approaches; however, no single intervention has proven beneficial in alleviating the cardinal symptoms of ASD. Therefore the most effective treatment or combination of treatments remains inconclusive. Creative movement and dance is a practical and feasible option for children with ASD. However, there exists a dearth of literature evaluating dance/movement therapy (DMT) for children with ASD, despite providing both physical and psychological benefits for children with ASD. This article aims to perform a narrative review of the literature.
    American Journal of Dance Therapy 12/2014; 36(2). DOI:10.1007/s10465-014-9179-0
  • Source
    • "The prevailing hypothesis regarding the physiopathology of ASDs identifies the area of social cognition as a primary deficit. In particular, it focuses on the impaired capabilities of affected people to attribute mental states to others (and oneself) in order to explain and predict behavior (i.e., the theory of mind hypothesis proposed by Baron-Cohen and colleagues (2, 3). However, altered affectivity is evident in autistic children (4) and, as recently proposed by Chevallier and others (5), motivation and reward processes might also participate to the physiopathology of ASDs. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are characterized by impaired communication, social impairments, and restricted and repetitive behaviors and interests. Recently, altered motivation and reward processes have been suggested to participate in the physiopathology of ASDs, and μ-opioid receptors (MORs) have been investigated in relation to social reward due to their involvement in the neural circuitry of reward. Mice lacking a functional MOR gene (Oprm1 (-/-) mice) display abnormal social behavior and major autistic-like core symptoms, making them an animal model of autism. The oxytocin (OXT) system is a key regulator of social behavior and co-operates with the opioidergic system in the modulation of social behavior. To better understand the opioid-OXT interplay in the central nervous system, we first determined the expression of the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) in the brain of WT C57BL6/J mice by quantitative autoradiography; we then evaluated OXTR regional alterations in Oprm1 (-/-) mice. Moreover, we tested these mice in a paradigm of social behavior, the male-female social interaction test, and analyzed the effects of acute intranasal OXT treatment on their performance. In autoradiography, Oprm1 (-/-) mice selectively displayed increased OXTR expression in the Medial Anterior Olfactory Nucleus, the Central and Medial Amygdaloid nuclei, and the Nucleus Accumbens. Our behavioral results confirmed that Oprm1 (-/-) male mice displayed social impairments, as indicated by reduced ultrasonic calls, and that these were rescued by a single intranasal administration of OXT. Taken together, our results provide evidence of an interaction between OXT and opioids in socially relevant brain areas and in the modulation of social behavior. Moreover, they suggest that the oxytocinergic system may act as a compensative mechanism to bypass and/or restore alterations in circuits linked to impaired social behavior.
    Frontiers in Pediatrics 09/2014; 2:91. DOI:10.3389/fped.2014.00091
  • Source
    • "For example, the emotion of Fear may be expressed figuratively by the idiomatic expression ‘to get cold feet’ (French: ‘avoir la chair de poule’ = ‘having the chicken skin’ (literal meaning)). These expressions were used because their meaning requires individuals with ASC to learn them explicitly [57]. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: It is widely accepted that emotion processing difficulties are involved in Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC). An increasing number of studies have focused on the development of training programs and have shown promising results. However, most of these programs are appropriate for individuals with high-functioning ASC (HFA) but exclude individuals with low-functioning ASC (LFA). We have developed a computer-based game called JeStiMulE based on logical skills to teach emotions to individuals with ASC, independently of their age, intellectual, verbal and academic level. The aim of the present study was to verify the usability of JeStiMulE (which is its adaptability, effectiveness and efficiency) on a heterogeneous ASC group. We hypothesized that after JeStiMulE training, a performance improvement would be found in emotion recognition tasks. A heterogeneous group of thirty-three children and adolescents with ASC received two one-hour JeStiMulE sessions per week over four weeks. In order to verify the usability of JeStiMulE, game data were collected for each participant. Furthermore, all participants were presented before and after training with five emotion recognition tasks, two including pictures of game avatars (faces and gestures) and three including pictures of real-life characters (faces, gestures and social scenes). Descriptive data showed suitable adaptability, effectiveness and efficiency of JeStiMulE. Results revealed a significant main effect of Session on avatars (ANOVA: F (1,32) = 98.48, P < .001) and on pictures of real-life characters (ANOVA: F (1,32) = 49.09, P < .001). A significant Session × Task × Emotion interaction was also found for avatars (ANOVA: F (6,192) = 2.84, P = .01). This triple interaction was close to significance for pictures of real-life characters (ANOVA: F (12,384) = 1.73, P = .057). Post-hoc analyses revealed that 30 out of 35 conditions found a significant increase after training. JeStiMulE appears to be a promising tool to teach emotion recognition not only to individuals with HFA but also those with LFA. JeStiMulE is thus based on ASC-specific skills, offering a model of logical processing of social information to compensate for difficulties with intuitive social processing. Trial registration Comité de Protection des Personnes Sud Méditerranée V (CPP): reference number 11.046 (
    Molecular Autism 07/2014; 5(1):37. DOI:10.1186/2040-2392-5-37 · 5.41 Impact Factor
Show more