Autism as a Dimensional Construct, from Cognitive Neurophsyiology to Behaviour

Lunedì, 22 Ottobre, 2018
Relatore: Matthew Belmonte, Nottingham Trent University
Titolo: Autism as a Dimensional Construct, from Cognitive Neurophsyiology to Behaviour
Dove: Aula Luciani, CU027 (Fisiologia umana, piano terra), Sapienza Università di Roma.
Quando: Giovedi' 25 Ottobre 2018, ore 14:00
Our work with people with autism, their family members, and with the general population has indicated that many (though not all) aspects of autism heretofore construed as categorical differences become more explicable as dimensional variations continuously distributed throughout the population.  In autism siblings, autistic traits covary with the behaviourally measured ability to distribute attention across bilateral visual stimulus arrays, and with a delayed and prolonged time course of prefrontal and cerebellar activation associated with changing demands for attentional selection.  Our current work associates autistic traits with heightened P3b visual event-related potential in response to task-irrelevant stimuli, across tasks including go/no-go response inhibition and visual spatial attentional shifting and selection; and also associates reaction time in a theory-of-mind task with network and regional measures of functional and structural brain connectivity including diffusion-tensor measures of regional structural integrity and network efficiency in right supramarginal gyrus.  Behaviourally, our work associates autistic traits with a broad range of cognitive traits and abilities, including resistance to false memory but also deficits in source memory which may be associated with difficulty separating models of one's own and others' beliefs, the ability to recognise faces from eyes, and even dimensional aspects of paraphilic interest.  Taken together, such results support an integrated model of autistic and non-autistic brain and cognitive development in which domain-general cognitive skills prerequisite to the emergence of higher-order social capacities are distributed throughout the population continuously and independently of each other, but can synergise during development towards a more categorical and syndromic endpoint.

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