Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Michael Toglia

Second Advisor

Dr. Tracy Alloway

Rights Statement

Department Chair

Dr. Lori Lange

College Dean

Dr. George Rainbolt


There is an age-shift in neurotypical children: younger children tend to remember information in a verbatim manner so they store item-specific surface characteristics; between nine and ten children engage in gist recall where they store meanings of presented information. The aim of the present study was to explore false memory in children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), as some research suggests that they develop gist recall at a later age than neurotypical children. We are also interested in the role of working memory.

One approach to understanding false memory creation is activation-monitoring (AM) theory. Working memory can play a role during both the activation (encoding) phase, as well as during the monitoring retrieval phase. When working memory is overloaded or suboptimal, source monitoring is compromised at the encoding phase.

In this study, we tested high-functioning children with ASD on working memory capacity. In addition, simple sentences were presented to be recalled, each one followed by a short word list that contained a thematically related distractor item. If a child used gist memory to recall the sentence, they would likely substitute the target (e.g., rabbit) word with the distractor (e.g., bunny). However, if they depended on verbatim recall, the distractor would not affect sentence recall performance. Children with lower working memory scores were more likely to incorrect answers to gist questions than those with high working memory. These findings have important implications for everyday social functioning. Though debatable, working memory impairments may encourage false memories in children with ASD.