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Title: Investigating spatial reasoning skills among individuals diagnosed with Asperger syndrome
Author: Pertini, Mark
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2004
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Specific brain functions underlying the social communication difficulties observed in individuals with Asperger syndrome is poorly understood, although neural systems of the right cortical hemisphere have been implicated in the syndrome. This study aims to examine right hemisphere dysfunction in individuals with Asperger syndrome by investigating spatial memory impairments associated with deficits in the right hippocampus. Twenty children with a clinical diagnosis of Asperger syndrome were recruited for the study, and their spatial memory and reasoning skills compared to 18 healthy controls, matched for age, intelligence, and handedness. Allocentric spatial memory was assessed using a children’s version of the Nine Box Maze Test (Pentland, Anderson, Dye, & Wood, 2003), which also measures associative spatial memory recall and spatial strategy formation. Comparisons between groups were also made on measures of broader spatial processing skills such as place coding and response learning of an object’s location. Results indicated that there was no allocentric spatial memory deficits among the population sampled, but that the individuals with Asperger syndrome performed significantly more poorly than controls on associative spatial memory recall. This difference remained significant once age and intelligence were controlled for, and irrespective of the spatial strategy adopted to complete the associative memory task. Poor associative memory recall among individuals with Asperger syndrome did not impact on broader spatial processing. It was concluded that while the allocentric spatial memory processes associated with the right hippocampus are intact, individuals with Asperger syndrome may have a distinct deficit forming and maintaining a representation of the association between the various objects and their location in the surrounding environment. Theoretical and clinical issues raised by these findings are discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available