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Title: Experience dependent sensorimotor functioning in adults with severe autism spectrum disorder
Author: Oulton, J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 8501 7337
Awarding Body: Liverpool John Moores University
Current Institution: Liverpool John Moores University
Date of Award: 2019
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The aim of this doctoral research was to provide new insights into sensorimotor development and functioning in autistic adults. First, classification measures (Chapter Two) were used to verify the diagnosis of autism, and automatic imitation (Chapter Three) was used to verify an intact perception-action link. In Chapter Four, in Twists, the trampolining group (those with sensorimotor experience) had a First Fixation Location on the incongruent model on the first trial but had a longer First Fixation Duration on the congruent model across the trials. Whereas the non-trampolining group (those without sensorimotor experience) did not attend to either model significantly differently in their First Fixation Location but had a longer First Fixation Duration on the incongruent model. In Chapter Five, for familiar actions, the First Fixation Location was on the autistic model on the first trial, and First Fixation Duration was longer on the autistic model across the trials. This indicates that the sensorimotor system in autistic individuals is attuned to autistic kinematics, due to attention being drawn to the autistic model and it being evaluated for longer. For the skilled actions across the trials, the First Fixation Location was on the typical model, and for the Percentage of Total Fixation Duration the typical model was fixated on for proportionately longer. This was then further investigated in Chapter Six, in which participants ability to pursue point-light displays performing trampolining actions was examined. Sensorimotor experience did not result in superior pursuit of the point-light displays; the trampolining and non-trampolining groups performed similarly with no significant differences in the number or duration of eye movements. Therefore, the result of sensorimotor experience is superior identification and initial evaluation seen in the first fixation but does not have a significant effect past this point. Taken together, it can be suggested that action observation is intact in moderate to severely autistic adults through experience dependent attentional differences. This will add to the literature and understanding of minimally verbal adults with moderate to severe autism, a vastly understudied population.
Supervisor: Causer, J. ; Hayes, S. ; Bennett, S. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: RC1200 Sports Medicine