Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Effects of autism reach beyond language

07.02.2005


A new study suggests that people with autism may perform unusually well on some tests of visual processing.

The researchers found that autistic people were less likely than others to have false memories about images they had seen earlier. The researchers had previously demonstrated this kind of effect with verbal material, but not with visual material. In this case, the results suggest that the autistic people had trouble seeing the images in context – a hallmark of the disorder.

The study’s findings point out that the effects of autism may be more general than researchers once thought. "We thought that the effects of autism might go beyond language problems – that it affects different areas of the brain," said David Beversdorf, a study co-author and an assistant professor of neurology at Ohio State University. In 2000, he led a similar study that looked at the effect of autism on language. "We wanted to see if we’d get similar results with a visual model, and we did." Beversdorf and his colleagues presented their findings on February 4 in St. Louis at the annual meeting of the International Neuropsychological Society.



The researchers tested a total of 28 adults, 14 of whom were high-functioning autistics – these participants could verbalize their thoughts (people with severe forms of autism often can’t or don’t speak.)

The researchers showed the autistic and non-autistic participants a series of slides that portrayed images containing groups of geometric shapes. The group then looked at a second set of test slides – two of these slides contained images from the original set, two contained images that were obviously not part of the first set of slides, and one slide contained a “lure” image – an object very similar in shape, size, arrangement and color to the images shown in the original set, but one that wasn’t actually part of that set.

The lure image tested what researchers call the "false memory effect" – given this slide’s similarity to the original group of slides, most people would believe that they had seen it in the original set. And most of the non-autistic participants mistakenly identified the lure as part of the original group.

Not so with the autistic people, though – they were far less susceptible to the false memory. "This suggests that autistic people may have trouble with using context," Beversdorf said. "The image on the lure slide was so similar to the images shown in the original group of slides that it was fairly difficult to determine if it was part of the first group. "Whether they were aware of it or not, the non-autistic people had used the context of the original group of slides – the shape, size and color of these images – to decide if they had previously seen the lure image. This same use of context doesn’t seem to happen in the autistic brain, which may relate to the altered brain circuitry in autism."

Beversdorf and his colleagues found similar results in a previous language study. In that research, people were read a list of related words followed by a shorter list that included a lure word. More often than not, the autistic participants said that they had not heard the lure in the original word group, while non-autistic people mistakenly said they had heard it. "The new study reinforces the results of the language study, but expands it beyond the domain of language," said Ashleigh Hillier, a study co-author and a research scientist in neurology at Ohio State University. "Autistic people usually can’t grasp the full meaning, or context, of a situation," she said. "This often leads to difficulties in social settings, as making inferences from what someone else says or thinks is extremely difficult for an autistic person."

People with milder forms of autism often have IQs that are normal or above normal. But they still struggle in the real world. Understanding the kind of difficulties autistic people have with context may improve their treatment options. "Our studies strongly suggest that autistic people need more emphasis on and explanation about the context of different situations," said Hillier, who leads a social skills support group for people with milder forms of autism. "We can teach them how to interpret different situations."

Hillier and Beversdorf conducted the study with Heather Campbell, a nursing student at Ohio State; Kate Renner, an undergraduate student at the university; and Nicole Phillips, a former Ohio State medical student.

This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

David Beversdorf | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.osu.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Innovative genetic tests for children with developmental disorders and epilepsy
11.07.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Oxygen loss in the coastal Baltic Sea is “unprecedentedly severe”
05.07.2018 | European Geosciences Union

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Subaru Telescope helps pinpoint origin of ultra-high energy neutrino

16.07.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Barium ruthenate: A high-yield, easy-to-handle perovskite catalyst for the oxidation of sulfides

16.07.2018 | Life Sciences

New research calculates capacity of North American forests to sequester carbon

16.07.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>