Asperger’s disorder is a subtype of autism, characterized by deficits in social interaction, delays in nonverbal communication and possibly also deficits in nonverbal IQ (such as on a test known as Block Design). However, a new study in Brain and Cognition challenges this latter claim – with surprising results.
Hayashi et al gave 17 children with Asperger’s a test of fluid intelligence called the Raven’s Progressive Matrices. Fluid intelligence is thought to reflect problem-solving ability, to show large individual differences, and to be a distinct construct from general intelligence (“g”). The results showed that these children performed better on the Raven’s Progressive Matrices test than 17 age- and sex-matched controls, and that these results seemed to be driven by superior fluid intelligence among male children with Asperger’s.
The authors conclude that subjects with Asperger’s may have superior left lateral prefrontal function, and that future research should focus on understanding the precise cognitive correlates of improved fluid intelligence.