The Right Pressure

  • Both adults and children with autism experience memory difficulties when asked a direct recall question. When asked to choose between information that they have learned and not learned they were unimpaired (Maister et al, 2013).
  • Our brain is hard-wired to process the gist of a topic before the details. Information should therefore be presented in this way (LeDoux, 2002; Turk-Browne et al, 2006; Adolphs et al, 2005; Squire, 1999). 
  • A recent study found that toddlers learn best by observing other people doing an activity. The study went on to suggest that it might be more prudent for teachers to start introducing abstract mathematical concepts earlier using cause and effect type strategies (Waismeyer et al, 2014).


  • Maister, L., Simons, J. S., & Plaisted-Grant, K. (2013). Executive functions are employed to process episodic and relational memories in children with autism spectrum disorders. Neuropsychology, 27(6), 615.
  • LeDoux, J. Synaptic Self: How Our Brains Become Who We Are Viking Press New York: Viking Press, 2002. p. 320-321
  • Turk-Browne, N., et al. “Linking Implicit and Explicit Memory: Common Encoding Factors and Shared Representations.” Neuron 49 (2006): 917 – 27.
  • Adolphs, R., et al. “Amygdala Damage Impairs Emotional Memory for Gist but Not for Details of Complex Stimuli.” Nature Neurosci 8 (2005): 512-18.
  • Squire, L., and E. Kandel. Memory Scientific American Press, 1999. p. 78
  • Waismeyer, A., Meltzoff, A. N., & Gopnik, A. (2014). Causal learning from probabilistic events in 24‐month‐olds: an action measure.Developmental science.


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