Archives of Neuroscience

Published by: Kowsar

Is There any Correlation Between Executive Dysfunction and Behavioral Symptoms in Autistic Children? A Systematic Review

Vali Shiri 1 , Seyed Ali Hoseyni 2 , Ebrahim Pishyareh 3 , * , Vahid Nejati 4 , Mahbubeh Emami 5 and Esmail Shiri 6
Authors Information
1 Department of Occupational Therapy, School of Rehabilitation Sciences, Musculoskeletal Research Center, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, IR Iran
2 Occupational Therapy, Department of Occupational Therapy, University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences, Tehran, IR Iran
3 Department of Occupational Therapy, University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences, Tehran, IR Iran
4 Department of Cognitive Neuroscience (Brain and Cognition), Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, IR Iran
5 School of Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Welfare and Rehabilitation, Tehran, IR Iran
6 Department of Psychology and Educational, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, IR Iran
Article information
  • Archives of Neuroscience: April 2018, 5 (2); e64303
  • Published Online: April 19, 2018
  • Article Type: Review Article
  • Received: October 21, 2017
  • Revised: December 21, 2017
  • Accepted: January 17, 2018
  • DOI: 10.5812/archneurosci.64303

To Cite: Shiri V, Hoseyni S A, Pishyareh E, Nejati V, Emami M, et al. Is There any Correlation Between Executive Dysfunction and Behavioral Symptoms in Autistic Children? A Systematic Review, Arch Neurosci. 2018 ; 5(2):e64303. doi: 10.5812/archneurosci.64303.

Copyright © 2018, Archives of Neuroscience. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License ( which permits copy and redistribute the material just in noncommercial usages, provided the original work is properly cited
1. Context
2. Evidence Acquisition
3. Results
4. Discussion
  • 1. Frazier TW, Youngstrom EA, Speer L, Embacher R, Law P, Constantino J, et al. Validation of proposed DSM-5 criteria for autism spectrum disorder. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2012;51(1):28-40 e3. doi: 10.1016/j.jaac.2011.09.021. [PubMed: 22176937].
  • 2. Victor L. Epidemiology of autistic conditions in young children. Social Psychiat. 1996;1(3):124-35.
  • 3. Jon B. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Surveillance Summaries. Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders: Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 14 Sites. United States; 2008. 61 p.
  • 4. Tervo RC. Identifying patterns of developmental delays can help diagnose neurodevelopmental disorders. Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2006;45(6):509-17. doi: 10.1177/0009922806290566. [PubMed: 16893855].
  • 5. Miyake A, Friedman NP, Emerson MJ, Witzki AH, Howerter A, Wager TD. The unity and diversity of executive functions and their contributions to complex "Frontal Lobe" tasks: a latent variable analysis. Cogn Psychol. 2000;41(1):49-100. doi: 10.1006/cogp.1999.0734. [PubMed: 10945922].
  • 6. Willcutt EG, Doyle AE, Nigg JT, Faraone SV, Pennington BF. Validity of the executive function theory of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a meta-analytic review. Biol Psychiatry. 2005;57(11):1336-46. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2005.02.006. [PubMed: 15950006].
  • 7. Schmitz N, Rubia K, Daly E, Smith A, Williams S, Murphy DG. Neural correlates of executive function in autistic spectrum disorders. Biol Psychiatry. 2006;59(1):7-16. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2005.06.007. [PubMed: 16140278].
  • 8. Gadow KD, Devincent CJ, Pomeroy J, Azizian A. Comparison of DSM-IV symptoms in elementary school-age children with PDD versus clinic and community samples. Autism. 2005;9(4):392-415. doi: 10.1177/1362361305056079. [PubMed: 16155056].
  • 9. Hill EL. Executive dysfunction in autism. Trends Cogn Sci. 2004;8(1):26-32. [PubMed: 14697400].
  • 10. Geurts HM, Verte S, Oosterlaan J, Roeyers H, Sergeant JA. How specific are executive functioning deficits in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism? J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2004;45(4):836-54. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2004.00276.x. [PubMed: 15056314].
  • 11. Liberati A, Altman DG, Tetzlaff J, Mulrow C, Gotzsche PC, Ioannidis JP, et al. The PRISMA statement for reporting systematic reviews and meta-analyses of studies that evaluate health care interventions: explanation and elaboration. PLoS Med. 2009;6(7). e1000100. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000100. [PubMed: 19621070].
  • 12. Meltzer L. Executive function in education from theory to practice. 2007. p. 65-75.
  • 13. Lopez BR, Lincoln AJ, Ozonoff S, Lai Z. Examining the relationship between executive functions and restricted, repetitive symptoms of Autistic Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord. 2005;35(4):445-60. doi: 10.1007/s10803-005-5035-x. [PubMed: 16134030].
  • 14. Geurts HM, Corbett B, Solomon M. The paradox of cognitive flexibility in autism. Trends Cogn Sci. 2009;13(2):74-82. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2008.11.006. [PubMed: 19138551].
  • 15. South M, Ozonoff S, McMahon WM. The relationship between executive functioning, central coherence, and repetitive behaviors in the high-functioning autism spectrum. Autism. 2007;11(5):437-51. doi: 10.1177/1362361307079606. [PubMed: 17942457].
  • 16. Christ SE, Holt DD, White DA, Green L. Inhibitory control in children with autism spectrum disorder. J Autism Dev Disord. 2007;37(6):1155-65. doi: 10.1007/s10803-006-0259-y. [PubMed: 17066307].
  • 17. Shiri V, Hosseini SA, Nejati V, Biglarian A. The relationship between response inhibition and cognitive flexibility with behavioral symptoms in children with high functioning autism. J Res Rehabilit Sci. 2015;11(1).
  • 18. Yerys BE, Wallace GL, Harrison B, Celano MJ, Giedd JN, Kenworthy LE. Set-shifting in children with autism spectrum disorders: reversal shifting deficits on the Intradimensional/Extradimensional Shift Test correlate with repetitive behaviors. Autism. 2009;13(5):523-38. doi: 10.1177/1362361309335716. [PubMed: 19759065].
  • 19. Turner M. Annotation: Repetitive behaviour in autism: a review of psychological research. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 1999;40(6):839-49. [PubMed: 10509879].
  • 20. Berger HJ, Aerts FH, van Spaendonck KP, Cools AR, Teunisse JP. Central coherence and cognitive shifting in relation to social improvement in high-functioning young adults with autism. J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2003;25(4):502-11. doi: 10.1076/jcen.25.4.502.13870. [PubMed: 12911104].
  • 21. Brian JA, Tipper SP, Weaver B, Bryson SE. Inhibitory mechanisms in autism spectrum disorders: Typical selective inhibition of location versus facilitated perceptual processing. J Child Psychol Psychiat Allied Disciplin. 2003;44:552-60.
  • 22. Thakkar KN, Polli FE, Joseph RM, Tuch DS, Hadjikhani N, Barton JJ, et al. Response monitoring, repetitive behaviour and anterior cingulate abnormalities in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Brain. 2008;131(Pt 9):2464-78. doi: 10.1093/brain/awn099. [PubMed: 18550622].
  • 23. Boyd BA, McBee M, Holtzclaw T, Baranek GT, Bodfish JW. Relationships among Repetitive Behaviors, Sensory Features, and Executive Functions in High Functioning Autism. Res Autism Spectr Disord. 2009;3(4):959-66. doi: 10.1016/j.rasd.2009.05.003. [PubMed: 21475640].
  • 24. Baddeley AD. The episodic buffer: A new component of working memory? Trend Cognitiv Sci. 2000;4:417-4.
  • 25. Cianna. M , Nelson CA. The functionalemergence of prefrontally-guided working memory systems in four- to eight-year old children. Neuropsychol. 1998;36:273-93.
  • 26. Sinzig J, Morsch D, Bruning N, Schmidt MH, Lehmkuhl G. Inhibition, flexibility, working memory and planning in autism spectrum disorders with and without comorbid ADHD-symptoms. Child Adolesc Psychiatry Ment Health. 2008;2(1):4. doi: 10.1186/1753-2000-2-4. [PubMed: 18237439].
  • 27. McEvoy RE, Rogers SJ, Pennington BF. Executive function and social communication deficits in young autistic children. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 1993;34(4):563-78. [PubMed: 7685360].
  • 28. Tager-Flusberg H. The relationship of theory of mind and executive functions to symptom type and severity in children with autism. J Dev Psychopathol. 2004:137-55.
  • 29. Gilotty LKL, Sirian L, Black DO, Wagner AE. Adaptive skills and executive function in autism spectrum disorders. Child Neuropsychology. J Normal Abnormal Develop Childhood Adolescenc. 2002:241-8.
  • 30. Davis AS. Handbook of Pediatric Neuropsychology. New York: Springer Publishing Company; 2010.
  • 31. Anderson D. Inhibition in visual selective attention: Evidence from normal development and autism. 1999.
  • 32. Althaus M, De Sonneville LM, Minderaa RB, Hensen LG, Til RB. Information processing and aspects of visual attention in children with the DSM-III-R diagnosis “Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified”(PDDNOS): I. Focused and divided attention. Child Neuropsychol. 1996;2(1):17-29.
  • 33. Rinehart NJ, Bradshaw JL, Moss SA, Brereton AV, Tonge BJ. A deficit in shifting attention present in high-functioning autism but not Asperger's disorder. Autism. 2001;5(1):67-80. doi: 10.1177/1362361301005001007. [PubMed: 11708391].
  • 34. Allen GCE. Attention function and dysfunction in autism. Frontiers in Bioscience. J Virtual Library. 2001;6:105-19.
  • 35. Matthew K, Belmontea DAYT. Functional anatomy of impaired selective attention and compensatory processing in autism. Cognitiv Brain Res. 2003;17(3):651–64.
  • 36. Shiri V, Hosseini SA, Pishyareh E, Nejati V, Biglarian A. Studying the Relationship of Executive Functions with Behavioral Symptoms in Children with High-Functioning Autism. 2015.
  • 37. Lemonda BC, Holtzer R, Goldman S. Relationship between executive functions and motor stereotypies in children with Autistic Disorder. Res Autism Spectr Disord. 2012;6(3):1099-106. doi: 10.1016/j.rasd.2012.03.001. [PubMed: 23637708].
  • 38. Geraldine Dawson ANM, Julie O, Julie R.Brown. Children with Autism Fail to Orient to Naturally Occurring Social Stimuli. J Autism Develop Disorder. 1998;28:479-85.
  • 39. Ozonoff S, Pennington B, SJ R. Executive function deficits in high-functioning autistic individuals: relationship to theory of mind. J Child Psychol Psychiat. 1991;7:1081-105.
  • 40. Riccio CARCR, Lowe P. Clinical Applications of continuous performance tests: Measuring attention and implusive responding in children and adults. 2005.
  • 41. Hughes CPM, Leboyer M. Towards a cogntive phenotype for autism: Increased prevalence of executive dysfunction and superior span amongst siblings of children with autism. J Child Psychol Psychiatr Allied Disciplin. 1999;40:705-18.
  • 42. Bishop DV, Norbury CF. Executive functions in children with communication impairments, in relation to autistic symptomatology. 1: Generativity. Autism. 2005;9(1):7-27. doi: 10.1177/1362361305049027. [PubMed: 15618260].
  • 43. Matson JL, Dixon DR, Matson ML. Assessment and treatment of aggressive behavior in children and adolescents with developmental disabilities. J Educatio Psychol. 2005;25:151-81.
  • 44. Isquith PK, Crawford JS, Espy KA, Gioia GA. Assessment of executive function in preschool-aged children. Ment Retard Dev Disabil Res Rev. 2005;11(3):209-15. doi: 10.1002/mrdd.20075. [PubMed: 16161093].
  • 45. Ozonoff S, Cook I, Coon H, Dawson G, Joseph RM, Klin A, et al. Performance on Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery subtests sensitive to frontal lobe function in people with autistic disorder: evidence from the Collaborative Programs of Excellence in Autism network. J Autism Dev Disord. 2004;34(2):139-50. [PubMed: 15162933].
  • 46. Happe F, Frith U. The weak coherence account: detail-focused cognitive style in autism spectrum disorders. J Autism Dev Disord. 2006;36(1):5-25. doi: 10.1007/s10803-005-0039-0. [PubMed: 16450045].
  • 47. Zandt F, Prior M, Kyrios M. Similarities and differences between children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder and those with obsessive compulsive disorder: executive functioning and repetitive behaviour. Autism. 2009;13(1):43-57. doi: 10.1177/1362361308097120. [PubMed: 19176576].
  • 48. Sayers N, Oliver C, Ruddick L, Wallis B. Stereotyped behaviour in children with autism and intellectual disability: an examination of the executive dysfunction hypothesis. J Intellect Disabil Res. 2011;55(7):699-709. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2788.2010.01370.x. [PubMed: 21199048].
  • 49. Landa RJ, Goldberg MC. Language, social, and executive functions in high functioning autism: a continuum of performance. J Autism Dev Disord. 2005;35(5):557-73. doi: 10.1007/s10803-005-0001-1. [PubMed: 16211332].
  • 50. Kenworthy L, Yerys BE, Anthony LG, Wallace GL. Understanding executive control in autism spectrum disorders in the lab and in the real world. Neuropsychol Rev. 2008;18(4):320-38. doi: 10.1007/s11065-008-9077-7. [PubMed: 18956239].

Featured Image:

Creative Commons License Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 4.0 International License .

Search Relations:



Create Citiation Alert
via Google Reader

Readers' Comments