The cerebellum and divided attention in autism spectrum disorders
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Divided attention, or the ability to respond to more than one task simultaneously, is an important skill for navigating complex social, communicative, academic, and professional settings. The purpose of the current study was to understand the association between the volume of the posterior cerebellum and divided attention in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and control participants. It was hypothesized that the ASD group would have worse divided attention abilities and smaller posterior cerebellar volumes compared to the control group. Furthermore, reduced posterior cerebellar volume was expected to be associated with weaker divided attention abilities. Participants were young adult males with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders (n=15) and controls matched for age, handedness, and nonverbal IQ (n=19). Results showed partial support for worse divided attention performance in ASDs and for a positive association between posterior cerebellar volume and divided attention performance. There were no group differences in posterior cerebellar volume, and accounting for intracranial volume did not affect findings. Limitations of the current study and future directions are discussed.