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Title: Systemising emotions : teaching emotion recognition to people with autism using interactive multimedia
Author: Golan, Ofer
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2007
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Recognition of emotions and mental states (ER) in others is a core difficulty for individuals with autism spectrum conditions (ASC). In contrast, they show good skills in ‘systemizing’- understanding non-agentive systems. This thesis evaluated the effectiveness of Mind Reading, a computer program teaching ER from a wide range of facial expression videos and recorded speech segments, systematically presented. Three different experiments tested the effectiveness of a minimum of 10 hours of software use over a period of 10-15 weeks among individuals with ASC. Experiments included evaluation of independent use of the software by adults and by 8-11 year olds with ASC, and tutor and group supported use of the software in adults with ASC. ER skills were assessed on four levels of generalisation before and after the training period, and compared to matched ASC and typically developing control groups. Results showed improved ER for software users from faces and voices, compared to the ASC control groups. Improvement was mostly limited to faces and voices which were included in the software. Generalisation to stimuli not included in the software was found in the children experiment, in the vocal and visual channels separately. Follow up assessment after a year showed greater improvement on general socio-emotional functioning measures among child and adult software users, compared to ASC controls. These results suggest that individuals with ASC can improve their ability to recognise emotions using systematic computer-based training with long term effects, but may need further tutoring to prevent hyper-systemising, and to enhance generalisation to other situations and stimuli. The reasons behind generalisation difficulties and the study’s limitations are discussed, and suggestions for future work are offered.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available