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Impaired Visual Disengagement in Autism:\ud Can this be due to stimulus effects and inherent interest?

By R. DAVID MARSHALL

Abstract

\ud Atypicalities in the disengagement of attention have been proposed to play a crucial role in the origins of autism. Yet to date, there is disagreement over the existence of these atypicalities, due to conflicting evidence. In this thesis, it is proposed that this apparent disagreement may in part be due an implicit assumption in the paradigm used to measure disengagement. That is that attentional engagement towards the initial fixation point will\ud always be to the same degree irrespective of motivational factors such as stimulus interest.\ud The results supported the proposal that stimulus characteristics, including interest value, play a role in the disengagement of attention. Although children with ASD\ud show dysfunction in attentional disengagement, this is only specific to certain types of stimuli. While stimulus interest is likely be a moderating factor in the disengagement and shifting of attention however, it cannot account for this dysfunction by itself. The findings\ud argue for the importance of stimulus choice when conducting studies into the disengagement of attention and that research on effect of stimulus interest and autism could be a major benefit to clinicians, carers and in particular, to the educators of these children

Topics: Attention, Disengagement, Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Interest
Year: 2011
OAI identifier: oai:etheses.dur.ac.uk:1392
Provided by: Durham e-Theses

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