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Title: Simulations of language in individuals with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Author: Tresh, Miriam A.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5990 7387
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2016
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The current thesis provides an exploration of mental simulations of language in individuals with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The experiential explanation of language proposes that language comprehension is facilitated through the construction of mental simulations of described events, which are embodied in cognition; grounded in action and perception. This high order cognitive process is thought to be underpinned by the mirror neuron system and other neural networks in the typically developed (TD) population. In a series of six experiments combining behavioural, EEG and eye-tracking measures with psycholinguistic paradigms, this thesis examines for the first time whether individuals with ASD activate mental simulations of language that are comparable to those of TD individuals. The main findings suggest that individuals with ASD are able to simulate written and spoken language, and do so in the same way as TD individuals; relying on the same neurological correlates. These simulations are activated in real-time as the described event unfolds and are constrained by the linguistic input. However, the findings point to a possible deficit or bias in interpreting prosodic content in ASD. Moreover, difficulties in simulating described events in ASD emerge when the temporal sequence of events are interrupted. Moreover, while individuals with ASD are able to simulate language online, subtle differences in processing compared to TD individuals may explain the social communication associated with the disorder. The findings offer support for a complex information processing explanation of ASD and are discussed in relation to existing cognitive theories of ASD and the impact of social skills and language ability on mental simulations.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BF Psychology