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Investigating the correlates of weak central coherence in autism

Milne, Elizabeth; (2004) Investigating the correlates of weak central coherence in autism. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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It has been suggested that autism is characterised by a cognitive style biased towards local rather than global information processing. This cognitive style is known as weak central coherence. There is a wealth of experimental evidence which illustrates that when compared to controls, individuals with autism show superior performance on tasks which require detail-focussed information processing. There is also emerging evidence that some individuals with autism have a deficit in the perception of coherent motion. This thesis presents the argument that deficit in a single aspect of visual processing could underlie both abnormalities in motion detection and the lack of global bias or weak central coherence shown in visual tasks in autism. Using random dot kinematograms to measure coherent motion detection and traditional tests of central coherence and local / global information processing (the children's embedded figures test and Navon tasks) it was found that not all the children with autism in the sample had weak central coherence when compared to matched controls and that only a sub-group of children had specific difficulty in detecting coherent motion. However in some cases significant relationships between variables indicated that the children with poor motion detection ability were also the ones who showed superior performance on the CEFT and a lack of global bias in the Navon task. The findings are discussed in terms of areas of the visual magnocellular pathway / dorsal stream which might underlie both a deficit in coherent motion detection and a lack of global bias in autism.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Investigating the correlates of weak central coherence in autism
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Psychology; Autism
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10099585
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