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Title: Visual and verbal thinking
Author: Dunne, Maureen N.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3435 9087
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2008
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In this thesis, I examined the general hypothesis that there are two different modes ofthought: verbal and visual. I argued that both the visual and verbal modes ofthinking have a developmental time-course that can be altered depending on a child's capacities and social-linguistic exposure. This i~sue was examined by conducting experiments on typically developing children and adults in comparison to children and adults with autism spectrum disorders and deaf children. Two general hypotheses explored a particular aspect ofthe relationship between mental states most heavily used, on the one hand, and mental language fluency, on the other hand, in providing an introspective report. The fITst hypothesis emphasizes the importance of the mode ofthinking most frequently used in studying introspection. Specifically, inner speech in typical development emerges from earlier use ofprivate speech and maintains the same verbal format. Young typically developing children, nevertheless, most frequently use visual imagery, at least until they develop proficient inner speech. Visual-spatial thinking then becomes more skilled in the course ofdevelopment and, by adulthood, both visual and verbal modes ofthinking are used depending upon the circumstances. In contrast to the typical developmental course, persons with autism spectrum disorders continue to rely more heavily on visual-spafial thinking. This suggests that inner speech is disrupted early in their development. Furthermore, deaf children's primary mode ofthought depends upon the nature oftheir linguistic exposure. Thus, I conclude in this thesis that by investigating the mode ofthinking most frequently used, young children, persons with autism and deafchildren demonstrate greater introspective capacity than previously assumed. The second hypothesis was that language ability is intimately connected to the ways in which children report on their mental states. The hypothesis was examined by studying typically developing children in comparison to children with autism and deaf children exposed to diverse linguistic backgrounds. In addition, participant's introspective reports were analysed not only in terms ofreferences to general mental states but also conceptual content. The experimenter used focused and repetitive prompts in eliciting introspective reports. The results indicated that although young preschool children, persons with autism and orally trained deaf children tend to use simple mental language, these groups, nevertheless, demonstrate some ability to reliably introspect. Furthermore, older typically developing children and adults, as well as fluent deaf signers, reported their mental states using more sophisticated and detailed mental language.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available