Date Approved

2012

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology

Committee Member

Renee Lajiness-O’Neill, PhD, Chair

Committee Member

Jin Bo, PhD

Committee Member

Thomas Schmitt, PhD

Abstract

Joint attention is a social interaction skill that normally develops in infancy and involves following another’s gaze to a stimulus. This skill is absent or developmentally delayed in autism spectrum disorders (ASD), causing cascading effects on development. Neural synchrony in the gamma frequency band is thought to be involved in cognitive functions such as joint attention. The current study investigated differences in gamma power between neurotypicals and ASD as measured by magnetoencephalography (MEG) while performing a gaze cueing task simulating joint attention. Results support lower frontal gamma power in ASD, suggesting that impaired generation of gamma activity in the prefrontal cortex may be involved in impairments in social cognitive functions such as joint attention in ASD. In contrast to previous research, findings did not support higher posterior gamma power in ASD, indicating a need for further research to clarify the nature of gamma oscillatory activity in posterior brain regions in ASD.

Comments

Additional committee member: Susan Bowyer, PhD

Included in

Psychology Commons

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