2. Mental flexibility
Goal: To determine whether people with autism encounter cognitive flexibility deficits.
Results: An overview of studies at multiple sites, using diverse methods, and participants of different autism subtypes, ages, and cognitive levels, revealed that there is no consistent evidence for cognitive flexibility deficits was found. Researchers and clinicians assume that inflexible everyday behaviors in autism are directly related to cognitive flexibility deficits as assessed by clinical and experimental measures. However, there is a large gap between the day-to-day behavioral flexibility and that measured with these cognitive flexibility tasks. In a follow up study we showed that also with more complex information children with autism can switch if a structured environment is provided. Currently we are testing whether mental flexibility can be trained and how children with autism with a cognitive flexibility deficit differ from those that do not have such a deficit.
Details: In the publication of Geurts, Corbett, & Solomon (2011) in Trends in Cognitive Science and of De Vries & Geurts (2012) in JADD you can find all details.
For a description of this project in Dutch see d’Arc onderzoek.