Investigation of interactions between processing levels via categorization processes
Children with autism have been shown to show differences in the ability to categorize information and process novel stimuli, however there is little research about the way that individuals with autism process stimuli in to categories. Previous studies have suggested that, in typically developing individuals, detection and categorization are simultaneous, but in autistic individuals a reduction in the interaction of cognitive processes causes detection to occur before categorization. The proposed research is designed to study categorization in autistic and Asperger participants (compared to non-affected individual) using electroencephalograms to measure event-related brain potentials in response to brief presentations of image scenes and during object discrimination, detection, categorization and sub-categorization tasks. The questions to be answered include: are certain discrimination and categorization tasks advanced in autistic individuals? Is object detection faster in individuals with autism? Is discrimination reduced in both new and well-learned categories in autism? What this means for people with autism: Children with autism are reported to resist generalization during intervention training, although categorization is crucial for most cognitive processes. Understanding how autistic individuals use and access categorical information could lead to improvements in intervention and educational methods (e.g., the way new material is presented and how new concepts are taught).