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Visual Mismatch Negativity as an Indicator of Emotion Processing in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Personality Traits

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Author: Gayle, Leigh Catherine
Advisor: Kieffaber, Paul
Committee Members: Dickter, Cheryl L.; Davies, Paul
Issued Date: 5/1/2012
Subjects: Autism
Visual Mismatch Negativity (vMMN)
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10288/16572
Description: The primary purpose of this research was to determine how modulation of the visual mismatch negativity (vMMN) by emotion is related to autism spectrum personality traits using electroencephalography (EEG). The mismatch negativity is an ERP component that occurs in response to a deviant stimulus that interrupts a sequence of repeated, or standardized, stimuli. In the current experiment, emotionally neutral faces served as the standard stimuli and happy and sad expressions served as deviants. Additionally, a neutral expression with a green tint served as a control condition. Consistent with prior research, we anticipated that the amplitude of the MMN would be increased for emotionally salient stimuli. Extending this finding, we expected that this emotion-based amplitude sensitivity would be decreased in individuals with higher levels of autism spectrum personality traits. The results replicated earlier research and were consistent with this hypothesis. Higher levels of autistic personality traits as determined by the Adult Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) were associated with smaller amplitudes of the vMMN in response to happy emotional expressions. This effect was more pronounced over the right parieto-occipital cortex. Taken together this research suggests that vMMN elicited by emotional expressions can be used as an index of early emotion processing and may be related to social competency in autism.
Degree: Bachelors of Science in Psychology

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