Study shows People with Autism Can Spot Inappropriate Behaviour But Find it Difficult to Verbally Explain them

Using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), Carter et al. (20120) aimed to find out the difference between the cognitive processes used by children with Autism when making decisions in social situations against those used by ‘Typically Developing (TD) children. Twenty five children (12 with Autism; 13 TD) were shown 32 pictures. In 16 of those, the children were asked to identify whether or not the target person (blonde-haired boy) was doing a bad thing, whilst on the other 16 pictures, the children were asked whether the activity took place outdoors.

Carter et al.’s (2012) findings showed no signficant differences in both groups’ performance on the task. However, the fMRI scans revealed that the social and language brain regions of the children with Autism’s brains showed very little activation in comparison to those of the TD children. The researchers proposed that these findings could indicate that despite the ability of the children with ASD to correctly identify the inappropriate behaviour, they find it difficult to verbally explain why such behaviours are inappropriate.


Carter, E.J., Williams, D.L., Minshew, N.J., & Lehman, J.F. (2012). Is He Being Bad? Social and Language Brain Networks during Social Judgment in Children with AutismPLoS ONE,; 7 (10): e47241 DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0047241

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Study Shows People with Autism Can Spot Inappropriate Behaviour but ffind it difficult to Verbally Explain Them

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