Date Approved

7-12-2013

Date Posted

9-19-2013

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Committee Member

Renee Lajiness-O'Neill, Ph.D., Chair

Committee Member

James T. Todd, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Susan Bowyer, Ph.D.

Abstract

Gaze-following is a rudimentary behavior that forms the foundation of social communication, where aberrant social orienting is a defining feature of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD; Hoehl et al., 2009; Nummenmaa & Cal der, 2009). Recent neuroimaging research has demonstrated increasing precision at identifying aberrant brain response patterns in individuals with ASD, but no studies have employed a more holistic neural network approach analyzing coherence (i.e., synchrony of neural oscillations) during direct gaze processing. The current study examined coherence between each pair of 54 brain regions and the relationship between average coherence and psychometric measures of social cognition in eleven participants with ASD and eight typically developing (TD) controls, who passively viewed direct gaze while undergoing Magnetoencephalography (MEG). Results revealed significant intra- and inter-hemispheric between-group differences in average coherence (1-45 Hz), providing preliminary support for increased long-range left hemisphere coherence and increased interhemisphere occipital-occipital activity in individuals with ASD.

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