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Cross-modal perceptual integration: Studies in autism, the broader autism phenotype and typical development

Grayson, Lois 2008. Cross-modal perceptual integration: Studies in autism, the broader autism phenotype and typical development. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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Integration of sound and vision is important for humans to interact efficiently with their environment. Co-occurrence of sensory inputs in space and time orients attention (Spence & McDonald, 2004), highlights causal relationships between events (Blakemore et al. (2001), and enhances representational formation from infancy (Jordan et al., 2006). Dysfunction within the neural mechanisms supporting multisensory processing hypothetically has widespread consequences, particularly in terms of social interaction as social stimuli are feature-rich and cross-modal. People with autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed on the basis of atypical behaviours relating to social interaction. Iarocci and McDonald (2006) consider that subjective perceptual incoherence in individuals with ASD reflect dysfunctional multisensory processing which may be causal to development of autism. Evidence of superior vision processing in ASD supports the idea that enhanced perceptual functioning (EPF) is an important part of the autism phenotype (Mottron et al., 2006). Bertone and Faubert (2006) propose that perceptual integration within single modalities is compromised, resulting in elevated simple stimulus feature processing. Their Signal Integration Theory (SIT) accommodates superiorities in autistic task performance that are theoretically related to a cognitive preference for detail-processing (Weak Central Coherence theory Happe' & Frith, 2006). In this thesis, a cross-modal phenomenon was selected assessing multisensory processing in typical children, adults with autistic traits and children with ASD. Processing cross-modal perceptual stimuli (Sekuler et al., 1997) relates to perceptual system functioning (Bushara et al., 2003) and is theoretically relevant to the development of intuitive physics (Michotte, 1963), a cognitive process spared in ASD (Baron-Cohen, Wheelwright, Scahill, Lawson & Spong, 2001). Visual disembedding and intuitive physics tasks show gender differences (Halpern et al., 2007). Sex differentiation in cognition has led to the Extreme Male Brain theory of Autism (Baron-Cohen, 2002), in which autistic 'traits' are expressed in everyone to some extent ASD is described as representing extreme male brain functioning at one end of a continuum, the other end representing the 'extreme female brain'. Research using adapted cross-modal perceptual stimuli is presented. This evaluates whether cross-modal integration is compromised in relation to autism. Gender, autistic trait expression and perception/cognition relationships between cross-modal causality and intuitive figures/visual disembedding are also researched to determine whether ASD might, in future, be remodelled in terms of extreme male perceptual development.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
ISBN: 9781303214226
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 20 Mar 2016 23:18

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