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Title: Visual search and task-irrelevant shape information in autism spectrum disorder
Author: Tribull, M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 8502 1125
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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Visual processing in autism has become a popular topic of research in the past two decades. However, many findings in the reported visual processing abnormalities in autism remain contradictory (Greenaway & Plaisted-Grant, 2013; Simmons et al., 2009). Theories of autism divide into those that favor an explanation of symptoms based on differences in social cognition and orienting on the one hand, and on perception, including vision, on the other. This thesis explores potential differences in visual attentional processing in autism spectrum disorder independently of social cognition factors. The focus lies on visual search as a task by which shifts of attention can be measured and inferences drawn as to underlying perceptual and cognitive processes. It reviews previous work on visual search in autism. The only recently published review on this topic lacked scrutiny (Kaldy et al., 2013). Reviewing the studies with respect to task designs and demographic features of the participants reveals a pattern of results consistent with a previously reported pattern (O'Riordan et al., 2001) but which is distinct from the common notion of "superior search abilities in autism in general". While children with autism are faster in conjunction and only inefficient feature searches, findings are mixed with regard to adults and feature search and are largely lacking for conjunction search in adults with autism. This thesis also presents an experiment which makes use of the combination of eye-tracking techniques and a visual orientation-feature search task under interference from higher level shape recognition (Zhaoping & Guyader, 2007). Moreover, relevant studies addressing what may be called "task-irrelevant higher-level visual processing" in autism are reviewed. Finally, a more complete characterization of the disorder in terms of its symptomatology with regard to visual attention and visual perception might lead to a better understanding of its causes.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available