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Title: Social understanding in children with epilepsy
Author: Lunn, Judith
Awarding Body: Lancaster University
Current Institution: Lancaster University
Date of Award: 2011
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Children with epilepsy are at increased risk of communication and behavioural problems. Previous research has not assessed whether difficulties with social understanding are a contributory factor. This thesis contains three studies that addressed social cognitive reasoning and social attention in a group of children with epilepsy and typically developing children in mainstream education. The studies employed diverse methodologies to explore functioning in a number of cognitive and attention domains known to contribute to social understanding skills. The first study involved 55 children with epilepsy and 69 typically developing children. It employed social cognitive and social perceptual reasoning tasks, standardized assessments of IQ and expressive language and parental report measures of communication and behaviour. The findings suggest that children with epilepsy have difficulty with socio-cognitive reasoning that may be independent of functioning in other non-social domains. The degree of socio-cognitive impairment also predicted increased parental reports of communication and behaviour problems in some children. The second study involved 57 children (34 with epilepsy) and addressed bias in mental states attribution. It provides evidence that atypical mental states attribution is associated with poor executive function and attention in children with epilepsy who have increased reports of behavioural problems. The third study used eye tracking to assess social attention and inhibition to dynamic displays of gaze and emotion. It involved 59 children (25 with epilepsy). The children with epilepsy demonstrated atypical responding to gaze and emotion signals and performance was associated with increased reports of social problems. Overall, the findings suggest that social cognition and social attention are areas of vulnerability in some children with epilepsy.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available