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Autobiographical memory, social problem solving, Theory of mind, adolescents
Adolescents with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) often demonstrate deficits in social cognition and emotion processing, which negatively impact the development of appropriate social skills. Consequently, they can experience social and community wi thdrawal and display an increased likelihood of remaining socially isolated in adulthood. Autobiographical memory (AM) has been found to be critical for the development of appropriate social behaviours; however, it has not been determined whether AM is imp aired in children and adolescents with FASD and if this contributes to inadequate social skill development and social withdrawal.
The specific objectives of the study were to: (1) compare AM recall performance between adolescents livi ng with a diagnosis of FASD and a group of typically developing control (TDC) participants and; 2) determine whether AM recall could predict performance on tasks designed to measure social cognition (i.e. theory of mind and social problem solving).
A two - group comparison study was carried out with 18 adolescents with FASD and 18 TDC participants ages 13 - 17 years. The groups were compared on the number of AM details that they recalled using the Children’s Autobiographical Memory Interview. Theory o f mind and social problem solving were investigated using clinical and experimental measures to assess social cognitive skills. Regression analyses were completed to understand whether the number and type of AM details recalled could predict social cogniti ve performance.
Preliminary analyses suggest that adolescents with FASD exhibit weaknesses with autobiographical memory, but not semantic memory. Specific deficits were found in recalling event details (i.e. main event details) and perceptual/sen sory details from past experiences.
This study is the first to our knowledge that will investigate AM in adolescents with FASD. A better understanding of the function of AM throughout adolescence in youth with FASD will increase our knowledge of the underlying mechanisms that may be related to social cognitive impairments faced by these youth.