Scientific article
Open access

Episodic future thinking in autism spectrum disorder and 22q11.2 deletion syndrome: association with anticipatory pleasure and social functioning

Published inJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, vol. 51, p. 4587-4604
Publication date2021

Episodic future thinking (EFT) has been suggested to underlie anticipatory pleasure (AP), itself known to play a crucial role in social functioning (SF). Both AP and SF are impaired in various clinical populations, including autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11DS). Therefore, the relationship between EFT, AP and SF was investigated, as well as the potential role of projecting oneself in a social vs. non-social context. Seventy-seven participants [24 with 22q11DS, 20 with ASD, 33 typically developing controls (TDs)] (aged 12–25) were included. They were assessed with a future thinking task in which they were asked to recall a memory and produce a likely event. Narratives were rated based of specificity, richness and imaginability. Participants completed questionnaires assessing AP and SF. Narratives from ASD and 22q11DS participants were rated as less vivid compared to TDs. However, the characteristics of the narratives differed between ASD and 22q11DS participants in terms of specificity and level of details, as well as in reaction to social condition. Moreover, correlations were found between AP and EFT in both ASD and 22q11DS participants, and between SF and EFT in ASD participants. These results point towards impairments in EFT in both ASD and 22q11DS participants but with a specific profile in each condition. The observed associations between EFT and AP suggest that decreased autonoetic consciousness might underlie AP impairments. In ASD individuals, the association between SF and EFT highlights the need to better characterize EFT since EFT could be another mechanism contributing to social difficulties.

  • Episodic future thinking
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • 22q11.2 deletion syndrome
  • Anticipatory pleasure
  • Social functioning
  • Autonoetic consciousness
Citation (ISO format)
FELLER, Clémence et al. Episodic future thinking in autism spectrum disorder and 22q11.2 deletion syndrome: association with anticipatory pleasure and social functioning. In: Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 2021, vol. 51, p. 4587–4604. doi: 10.1007/s10803-021-04903-2
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ISSN of the journal0162-3257

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