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Baron cohen


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    • Core Study: Baron-Cohen et al. (1997)
  • 2.
  • 3. What is Autism?
    • Profound psychiatric disorder in understanding and coping with social interaction / communication / imagination.
    • Key features are –
    • Lack of emotional contact with others
    • Muteness or unusual speech
    • Insistence on sameness
    • Poor pretend play abilities
    • Mental retardation
    • Repetitive behaviour patterns
    • Obsessive interests
    • Major learning difficulties
    • Resistant to change
  • 4. What causes autism?
    • There is evidence to suggest that some people have a genetic predisposition towards autism.
    • It is also suggested that it is caused by a response to environmental hazards, e.g. during pregnancy, diet, hormones, vaccines (MMR jab).
    • Autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their synapses connect and organize
  • 5. What age is autism usually discovered?
    • Parents usually notice signs in the first 2 to 4 years of their child's life. The signs usually develop gradually, but some autistic children first develop more normally and then regress.
    • In 1966: 1 in 2,222
    • In 1993: 1 in 141
    • In 2004: 1 in 110
  • 6. Autism in the media
    • Most examples of representations of autistic individuals in the media focus on autistic savants .
    • These are individuals who have an amazing ability. They will show an extraordinary talent in a particular area. Examples of savant talents include expert mathematical calculations, playing Beethoven on the piano after hearing the song for the first time and with no prior lessons, drawing a detailed map of the streets of London after being taken on a 30 minute helicopter trip.
    • One of the most famous example of an autistic savant is Daniel Tammet.
  • 7.
    • The ability to understand someone else’s point of view.
    • It is the ability to make inferences about what others believe to be the case in a given situation.
    • This allows us to predict what others will do.
    • ToM develops around age 4.
    • Baron-Cohen argues that this core feature is lacking with all autistic people .
    What is Theory of Mind? (ToM)
  • 8. What came before this case study? The Sally-Anne Test Baron-Cohen et al. (1985)
    • Meet Sally and Anne
    • Sally puts a ball in the basket and then leaves the room
    • Anne moves the ball into her box
    • Sally returns… Where will she look for the ball?
    • Where does Anne think Sally will look for the ball?
    • Autistic children will say that Sally will look for the ball in the basket only… They have no THEORY OF MIND
  • 9. Purpose of the Sally-Anne Test
    • This was the first major test used to assess ToM.
    • RESULTS: Baron-Cohen successfully showed that the majority of the autistic children used as participants in the study did not display ToM.
    • EVALUATION OF TEST: Useful to test children but not effective to test the more advanced ToM skills found in adults . Test designed for 6 year olds.
    • This more recent case study that you will be learning for your exam was developed by Baron-Cohen et al. to test adult ToM to tell us more about adults with autism.
  • 10. Baron-Cohen et al (1997) CASE STUDY: Another Advanced test of Theory of Mind (Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 38, pgs 813-822) COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY
  • 11. AIM
    • Baron-Cohen et al. developed the ‘ Reading the mind in the Eyes Task’. ( Eyes task for short)
    • Aim is to provide support for the cognitive explanation of autism, specifically that autistic adults lack advanced theory of mind skills; the ability to predict the thoughts or behaviour of another person.
  • 12. Hypotheses (what they predict would happen)
    • 1.Adults with autistic spectrum disorders can’t interpret states of mind from ‘reading’ eyes.
  • 13. METHOD: Participants
    • Three groups of participants were tested:
    • Group 1. 16 participants (13 male, 3 female) with autism or Asperger’s Syndrome all with normal intelligence (mean IQ was 105) = unconfounded by mental handicap.
    • Group 2. 50 normal age matched adults. (25 male, 25 female) taken from population of Cambridge. No mental illnesses. Normal intelligence. Used also to test gender differences in ToM.
    • Group 3. 10 adult patients (8m, 2f) with Tourette’s Syndrome. (similar to autism) Age matched with group 1. Mean IQ=103.5
  • 14. Independent and Dependant variables
    • Independent = the thing that doesn’t change over the course of the experiment.
    • Dependant = depends on the outcome of the independent variable, expected to change.
    • IV = participants used (normal, autistic, Tourette’s Syndrome)
    • DV = performance on test
  • 15. Method: Design
    • Collected quantitative data
    • Quasi- experiment design = independent variable varies naturally without the need for manipulation by experimenter.
    • Order effects = order of each task was change regularly for each participant to reduce effects that might change results, e. g. tiredness, boredom, getting used to design of experiment.
  • 16. METHOD: Procedure Each group was asked to complete the same 4 tasks.
    • 1. The Eye Task.
    • Participants shown 25 different faces with only the eye region visible.
    • All photos taken from magazines and turned into black and white.
    • All pictures show same region from midway along the nose to above the eyebrow.
    • Each picture shown for 3 seconds and the participants asked to select between 2 mental state terms printed under each picture to suggest what mental state the person was in. For each photo there was a mental state and its ‘foil’ (opposite)
    • Chose terms from 2 mental states. A) Basic = sad, happy. B) Complex = reflective, arrogant
  • 17. The Eyes Task
    • Lets have a look at a version of the test.
  • 18. METHOD: Procedure
    • 2. Strange Stories Task.
    • Participants used from group 1 and 3.
    • Tested using Happe’s ‘strange stories’ task
    • Also used to test ToM and validate the results from The Eyes task.
    • Participants asked to read each short story and then answer 2 questions, all similar for each story.
  • 19. METHOD: Procedure
    • 3. Control Tasks – used to ensure results from eyes task came from no other factors
    • A) Gender recognition of eyes task
    • Participants shown same eyes from the first task. Asked to identify whether they were male or female.
    • This was used as it involves face perception, social perception and perceptual discrimination. (main problem autistics face)
  • 20. METHOD: Procedure
    • 3 B. Basic Emotion Recognition Task
    • Shown photographs of whole faces which displayed the 6 basic emotions (sad, happy, angry, afraid, disgust, and surprise)
    • This was used to check if difficulties in the eyes task was from difficulties in recognising emotions.
  • 21.  
  • 22. RESULTS
    • Who performed the worst on the eyes task? Give statistical evidence
    • Who was better at the eyes task? Males or Females?
    Condition Mean score on the Eye Task Adults with autism or Asperger syndrome 16.3 'Normal' adults 20.3 Adults with Tourette syndrome 20.4 Condition Mean score on the Eye Task 'Normal' males 18.8 'Normal' females 21.8
  • 23. RESULTS
    • Autistic / Asperger’s syndrome group significantly less able to cope on the eyes task.
    • Normal and Torette’s Syndrome participants had very close results.
    • Autistic group’s responses on Happe’s strange stories showed significant errors.
    • No differences on the control tasks between 3 groups.
  • 24. DISCUSSION (discussing the results and why they might have been that way)
    • Adults with autism or AS were impaired on a ToM test even though they were of normal intelligence.
    • Normal population perform better on tests of ToM than males.
    • Autism impairment is not due to the following: low intelligence, any developmental neuropsychiatric disability as TS participants were unimpaired on the test, due to weak central coherence (cannot separate themselves from reality – given no context in eyes task, e.g. Sally has just fallen over, how would she feel?)
    • Even though participants with autism and AS had a normal or above average IQ they performed poorly on both ToM tasks.
    • Lack of ToM is a core deficit involved in autism.
    • Females have greater ToM skills than males. Baron-Cohen suggests this reflects differences in rate of development and superiority in language skills.
  • 26. Evaluating the study
    • Evaluating a core study is just as important as understanding the study itself. You WILL be tested on this in the exam so it’s important you develop your skills of being able to suggest the
    • STRENGTHS and WEAKNESSES of a study.
  • 27. EVALUATION: Research Method
    • Strengths: method was experimental which allows for ‘cause and effect’ to be established.
    • Quasi experiment = experimenter did not have to manipulate or control anything as subjects were naturally in the 3 categories.
    • Order effects = order of each task was change regularly for each participant to reduce effects that might change results, e. g. tiredness, boredom, getting used to design of experiment.
    • Validated the Eyes Task through the use of the strange stories task.
  • 28.
    • Weaknesses: a lab experiment. This might have made autistic participants feel disorientated by their surroundings and induced stress. This could have affected performance.
    • The Eyes Task is a very advanced ToM task. Photographs are static in a way the real world never is. May have been more realistic to use film instead of photographs.
    • Only asked to study the eyes, In everyday life we gain cues from the whole face to understand emotion. A characteristic of autism is to avoid eye contact – puts this group at a disadvantage.
    EVALUATION: Research Method
  • 29. EVALUATION: Participant sample
    • Affects of autism is hugely varied. Therefore difficult to generalise performance for the entire autistic population from using 4 autistic adults and 12 with Asperger’s Syndrome.
    • Small numbers used in groups 1 and 3 compared to group 2.
  • 30. EVALUATION: Type of data collected.
    • This experiment collected quantitative data (numbers / a quantity)
    • Using qualitative data (words, texts, speech, pictures, etc.) often gives more in-depth explanations and open ended questions provide reasons for answers given.
  • 31. EVALUATION: How useful was the data collection to wider society
    • Provides further evidence that a character of an autistic person is that they lack ToM.
    • Techniques have been developed in education for teachers to encourage ToM skills in autistic children.
    • Allowed those who are not autistic have a greater understanding of the behaviours of an autistic person.
  • 32. Changing the study
    • If you were going to recreate this study what 2 changes would you make?
    • Take into account what the weaknesses of this study have been and how you could make changes, particularly in the method and participants that would possibly improve the results.
    • Say how and why and what (you expect to happen)