Relationship between weak central coherence and mental states understanding in children with Autism and in children with ADHD.

Pina Filippello, Flavia Marino, Patrizia Oliva


The central coherence involves the processes of perceptual coding and attention mechanisms, highly deficient in children with ADHD (Booth & Happé, 2010). According to this theory, also children with autism are overly focused on details to the expense of a global perspective, and this negatively affects their ability to integrate environmental stimuli into a coherent whole (Happé, Booth, Charlton, Hughes, 2006). The aim of this study was to determine differences in central coherence of children with high functioning autism (ASD; n=10), children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD; n=10) and typically developing peers (n=10). Individuals with ADHD exhibit significant deficits in perceptual skills and problem solving, failing also in mental states understanding tasks. While the children with autism spectrum disorder show impairments in making pragmatic inferences. Future research should therefore concentrate on the investigation of the cognitive and psychological mechanisms underlying these effects.


Weak central coherence; Autism spectrum disorder; Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder; Perceptual skill; Pragmatic inference; Mental states understanding

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