The proposed program of research will examine the utility of an information processing framework for exploring the cognitive underpinnings of three neurodevelopmental disorders, autism, Tourette Syndrome, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Previous research has identified a cognitive domain of particular interest in the three disorders, executive function. Unfortunately, previous investigations have relied upon neuropsychological tasks that are cognitively complex and require multiple abilities for successful completion. Such measures are therefore relatively less suitable for exploring the precise nature of the processing deficits underlying the three disorders. An important next step in this field is the development of new measures that decompose complex cognitive functions into more elementary subcomponent operations. Three studies employing information processing tasks will be undertaken to examine three executive functions often confounded in standard neuropsychological measures, inhibition, flexibility, and working memory.
The specific aims of these studies are to examine: 1) whether a more fine-grained, differentiated analysis of executive function behaviors can be provided by information processing methodologies; 2) which executive functions are impaired in children with autism, Tourette Syndrome, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, respectively; and 3) if we can differentiate autistic children from those with other disorders on the basis of their executive function profiles, as defined by information processing measures. Despite the severity of these conditions, their neurobiological mechanisms and pathophysiology are not yet full understood. The immediate objective of the proposed studies is to identify the specific cognitive deficits associated with the disorders. The long-term goal of the research program is promote future neurobiological investigations by indicating brain regions most fruitful for future study. With more precise specification of the cognitive phenotypes of the disorders, brain structures and functions of particular interest may be identified, thus facilitating the search for the neurobiological origins of the disorders. A better understanding of core cognitive deficits may also lead to improvements in treatment techniques and early identification of at-risk individuals.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
First Independent Research Support & Transition (FIRST) Awards (R29)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Child Psychopathology and Treatment Review Committee (CPT)
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Utah
Schools of Arts and Sciences
Salt Lake City
United States
Zip Code
Gale, Susan; Ozonoff, Sally; Lainhart, Janet (2003) Brief report: pitocin induction in autistic and nonautistic individuals. J Autism Dev Disord 33:205-8
Ozonoff, S; Strayer, D L (2001) Further evidence of intact working memory in autism. J Autism Dev Disord 31:257-63
Ozonoff, S; Williams, B J; Rauch, A M et al. (2000) Behavior phenotype of FG syndrome: cognition, personality, and behavior in eleven affected boys. Am J Med Genet 97:112-8
Miller, J N; Ozonoff, S (2000) The external validity of Asperger disorder: lack of evidence from the domain of neuropsychology. J Abnorm Psychol 109:227-38
Ozonoff, S; Jensen, J (1999) Brief report: specific executive function profiles in three neurodevelopmental disorders. J Autism Dev Disord 29:171-7
Ozonoff, S; Strayer, D L; McMahon, W M et al. (1998) Inhibitory deficits in Tourette syndrome: a function of comorbidity and symptom severity. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 39:1109-18
Ozonoff, S; Strayer, D L (1997) Inhibitory function in nonretarded children with autism. J Autism Dev Disord 27:59-77