Exploring speech processing in high-functioning adults with autism spectrum disorders : The cognitive, behavioural and clinical correlates associated with atypical auditory processing.
mesheuropmc: genetic structures | behavioral disciplines and activities
Although high-functioning individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) develop a range of language skills, results from both behavioural and neuroimaging studies suggest that speech perception is atypical. Previous research carried out with children with ASD has revealed enhanced sensitivity to the psychoacoustic qualities of speech, but the extent that this is characteristic of adults has yet to be investigated. Indeed, little is known about the impact of atypical auditory processing on speech perception in intellectually high-functioning adults. The aim of this thesis is to identify any specific difficulties in speech perception and to investigate potential links between these and the social and communication deficits and sensory abnormalities characterising ASD.\ud \ud The studies described in this thesis test the effects of atypical perceptual processing using auditory Stroop paradigms and same-different pitch detection tasks and also address questions about how temporal and prosodic manipulations influence memory encoding and retrieval in sentence repetition tasks. The main findings showed that whilst adults with ASD were affected by prosodic and temporal manipulations to speech during higher-order tasks, this was similar to that observed in typically developing adults. Furthermore, adults with ASD did not reveal superior speech pitch discrimination previously observed in children with ASD. Taken together these findings suggest that high-functioning adults with ASD respond to perceptual manipulations carried out on speech stimuli in similar ways to typical controls. However, correlation and regression analyses carried out on the cognitive, behavioural and clinical data suggest that different mechanisms underlie perceptual and recall performance in the two groups and intelligence and symptom severity appear to be associated with the extent that atypical perception, encoding and recall of speech stimuli are manifested.
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