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Title: Local-global processing and cognitive style in autism spectrum disorders and typical development
Author: Booth, Rhonda Denise Lowsley
ISNI:       0000 0001 3470 7686
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2006
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This thesis was motivated by the hypothesis that a continuum of cognitive style may exist in the general population, from strong to weak coherence. On this conceptualisation, individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are proposed to lie at the extreme weak coherence or detail-focused end of the continuum. A battery of 14 coherence measures was administered to over 200 typically developing (Tn) individuals, 31 individuals with ASD, and 31 age- and IQ-matched control participants. The pervasiveness of central coherence was tested across visuo-spatial and auditory/verbal domains, and high- and lowlevels of processing. Age and IQ were typically related to task performance in the TD group, but a large proportion of variance remained unexplained and may reflect cognitive style. Low-level tasks were associated within and across visual and auditory domains, suggesting some consistency in individual differences. High-level tasks did not show such consistency, suggesting that executive/strategic processes may have greater effect on task performance than local-global processing style. Males showed greater detail-focus and stronger developmental effects (more global with age) than females on several measures. Weak coherence was demonstrated in ASD by local processing bias and lack of global bias. Local and good global processing appeared to be more in trade-off in the ASD group than in TD and control groups. Good local processing related to IQ in TD and controls, but less so in ASD suggesting local bias is more automatic to individuals with ASD. Subgroups were determined on the basis of performance across the battery, according to whether local or global processing was dominant, or whether an individual adapted well or poorly to the demands of the task. A consistent local processing style was more common in the ASD group than in the control group, but was not universal The implications of these findings for weak central coherence theory of ASD are discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available