KOURKOULOU, ANASTASIA (2010) Implicit Learning of Spatial Context in Adolescents and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.
The aim of the current thesis was to investigate whether individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) who show good visuospatial abilities, such as superior processing of local structures (Happé & Frith, 2006; Mottron, Dawson, Soulières, Hubert, & Burack, 2006), may also show intact or even superior learning of visuospatial information. In a series of experiments, with adolescents and adults with ASD and a comparison group of Typically Developing (TD) individuals, learning of spatial context was investigated using a visual search task, known as contextual cueing (Chun & Jiang, 1998). Contextual cueing refers to faster target detection in a visual search task with repeated exposure to a visual configuration (context), compared to configurations presented only once. Experiments 1 to 3 indicated that implicit learning may be reduced in ASD, however explicit learning was found to be preserved in ASD. In Experiments 4 to 6 implicit learning was re-examined. Results showed that when attention was oriented to the local parts of the display, individuals with ASD showed superior but atypical implicit learning of context relative to TDs (Experiment 4). However, when attention was directed to spatially distant, non-local contexts, performance was no different than for TD individuals (Experiment 5). Experiment 6 revealed superior implicit learning of local context in ASD and superior implicit learning of global context in TD individuals. Finally, Experiment 6 supported the view that contextual cueing is a local processing task, since both groups attended to local cues for longer periods of time. It is concluded that individuals with ASD show preserved or even superior implicit learning under conditions that involve attention to the local patterns.
|Item Type:||Thesis (Doctoral)|
|Award:||Doctor of Philosophy|
|Faculty and Department:||Faculty of Science > Psychology, Department of|
|Copyright:||Copyright of this thesis is held by the author|
|Deposited On:||11 Jun 2010 15:16|