Andrei R. Costea1
1 Cognitive Psychology Laboratory, Department of Psychology, Babeș-Bolyai University, 37 Republicii Street, Cluj Napoca, CJ 400015, Romania
Social cognition impairments are core features of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Learning without awareness, or implicit learning (IL), is one of the cognitive processes sustaining social cognition. Numerous scholars investigated if the deficit to learn from (and adapt to) others’ behaviour manifested in ASD is caused by an impaired functioning of IL. Evidences suggest normal IL functioning in ASD however, IL is a heterogeneous construct thus, generalization of conclusions based on non-socially relevant paradigms to social contexts is unadvisable – importantly, all studies examining this hypothesis employed non-social paradigms; also, behavioural data suggest normal IL functioning in ASDs but, recordings of electric brain activity suggest that their learning style is rather intentional than implicit – this compensatory strategy is hypothesised to produce maladaptive outcomes in naturalistic social tasks. In this study, we assess the relationship between implicit social learning and autistic traits in participants from the general population. Two hundred and twelve participants completed a modified version of the Artificial Grammar Learning Task. Results indicate that participants learned the regularities embedded in the task. Additionally, we found some weak evidences that autistic traits negatively predict participants’ performance in the task. Implications for future research will be discussed.
Keywords: Implicit learning, Artificial grammar learning, Facial emotional expressions, Autistic traits
Published online: 2018/09/01
Published print: 2018/09/01
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