Publications by authors named "Mark Brosnan"

48 Publications

To What Extent Can Digitally-Mediated Team Communication in Children's Physical Health and Mental Health Services Bring about Improved Outcomes? A Systematic Review.

Child Psychiatry Hum Dev 2021 May 8. Epub 2021 May 8.

Centre for Applied Autism Research, Department of Psychology, University of Bath, Bath, BA2 7AY, UK.

Digital communication technologies can be used for team consultation, case management, and information sharing in health and mental health services for children and young people (CYP). The objective of the systematic review was to investigate the evidence as to whether digitally-mediated team communication for CYP improves outcomes. We searched PsycINFO, PubMed, Web of Science, and Cochrane Library for relevant studies. Results were synthesised narratively. Seven studies were identified from 439 initial records. Analysis highlighted that digitally-mediated team communication is generally valued by professionals for supporting practice and that there is overall satisfaction with the process. There was preliminary evidence (from one study) that clinical outcomes from digitally-mediated team communication are comparable to those achieved by a collaborative service model with direct specialist care to service users via digital communication technology. There is a need for further high-quality research into clinical outcomes and service user experience, as well as financial implications.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10578-021-01183-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8105145PMC
May 2021

Exploring an e-learning community's response to the language and terminology use in autism from two massive open online courses on autism education and technology use.

Autism 2021 07 11;25(5):1349-1367. Epub 2021 Feb 11.

University of Bath, UK.

Lay Abstract: Within the neurodiversity movement, one recent divergence is in the semantic choice of language when describing autism, as members of the autism and autistic community preferred to use - language (autistic person), whereas professionals were more likely to use language (person with autism). This study explored 803 e-learners' responses from their comments across two massive open online courses on autism education held between 2017 and 2019. Learners agreed that autistic individuals should guide others on which terminology to use when describing autism, and although language acknowledges autism as part of an individual's identity, it can also conjure up negative stereotypes and be stigmatising. Although family, friends and professionals highlighted that the diagnostic label is a way to facilitate understanding across stakeholder groups and help autistic individuals gain access to support, autistic self-advocates found the process of disclosing autism as a form of disability to conflict with their sense of identity, and broader terms such as 'autism spectrum' failed to capture individual strengths and weaknesses. Semantic language choices may matter less as long as the person's difficulties are clearly acknowledged, with adaptations made to meet their specific needs. Adding to a growing body of literature on terminology use in autism research and practice, we highlight that language used when describing autism should follow the autistic individual's lead, with the primary focus on communicating an individual's strengths and difficulties, to foster a sense of positive autism identity and inclusivity, and enable access to appropriate support.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1362361320987963DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8264622PMC
July 2021

Predictive sensorimotor control in autism.

Brain 2020 10;143(10):3151-3163

College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, EX1 2LU, UK.

Autism spectrum disorder has been characterized by atypicalities in how predictions and sensory information are processed in the brain. To shed light on this relationship in the context of sensorimotor control, we assessed prediction-related measures of cognition, perception, gaze and motor functioning in a large general population (n = 92; Experiment 1) and in clinically diagnosed autistic participants (n = 29; Experiment 2). In both experiments perception and action were strongly driven by prior expectations of object weight, with large items typically predicted to weigh more than equally-weighted smaller ones. Interestingly, these predictive action models were used comparably at a sensorimotor level in both autistic and neurotypical individuals with varying levels of autistic-like traits. Specifically, initial fingertip force profiles and resulting action kinematics were both scaled according to participants' pre-lift heaviness estimates, and generic visual sampling behaviours were notably consistent across groups. These results suggest that the weighting of prior information is not chronically underweighted in autism, as proposed by simple Bayesian accounts of the disorder. Instead, our results cautiously implicate context-sensitive processing mechanisms, such as precision modulation and hierarchical volatility inference. Together, these findings present novel implications for both future scientific investigations and the autism community.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awaa243DOI Listing
October 2020

Digitally-Mediated Social Stories Support Children on the Autism Spectrum Adapting to a Change in a 'Real-World' Context.

J Autism Dev Disord 2021 Feb;51(2):514-526

Department of Psychology, University of Bath, Claverton Down, Bath, BA2 7AY, UK.

Social Stories™ (SS) is a widely used intervention for children on the autism spectrum. A preliminary survey of 103 practitioners highlighted that SS are often used to support adapting to a change. This study investigated the use of digitally-mediated SS to support ten children on the autism spectrum attending a school summer camp. Teacher perceptions of anxiety, understanding and closeness to the goal of the SS were assessed before and after the intervention (prior to the event). The pre- post-intervention comparisons highlighted significant improvements in child understanding, anxiety, and closeness to goal with medium-large effect sizes. The child's understanding and closeness to SS goal post-intervention related to their difficulties with the SS goal and their anxiety during the event.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10803-020-04558-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7835189PMC
February 2021

An Exploratory Study of a Dimensional Assessment of the Diagnostic Criteria for Autism.

Authors:
Mark Brosnan

J Autism Dev Disord 2020 Nov;50(11):4158-4164

Centre for Applied Autism Research, Department of Psychology, University of Bath, Bath, BA2 7AY, UK.

Prevalence rates of autism based upon child samples have shown a consistent increase over the past three decades, suggesting that many autistic adults are undiagnosed. Adult diagnostic pathways typically are initiated with measures of autistic-like traits. Whilst autistic-like traits represent a continuous dimension across the general population, autism is a categorical diagnosis and the relationship between the two is unclear. A self-report dimensional reflection upon the two diagnostic criteria for autism was developed and reflected upon by 1076 participants embedded within two online surveys. Those with an informal (self) diagnosis of autism self-reported comparable social difficulties but fewer restricted and repetitive behaviour difficulties than those with a formal diagnosis of autism. The new items also significantly correlated with autistic-like traits.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10803-020-04474-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7557478PMC
November 2020

Perception of Discrete Emotions in Others: Evidence for Distinct Facial Mimicry Patterns.

Sci Rep 2020 03 13;10(1):4692. Epub 2020 Mar 13.

Centre for Applied Autism Research, Department of Psychology, University of Bath, Bath, UK.

Covert facial mimicry involves subtle facial muscle activation in observers when they perceive the facial emotional expressions of others. It remains uncertain whether prototypical facial features in emotional expressions are being covertly mimicked and also whether covert facial mimicry involves distinct facial muscle activation patterns across muscles per emotion category, or simply distinguishes positive versus negative valence in observed facial emotions. To test whether covert facial mimicry is emotion-specific, we measured facial electromyography (EMG) from five muscle sites (corrugator supercilii, levator labii, frontalis lateralis, depressor anguli oris, zygomaticus major) whilst participants watched videos of people expressing 9 different basic and complex emotions and a neutral expression. This study builds upon previous research by including a greater number of facial muscle measures and emotional expressions. It is the first study to investigate activation patterns across muscles during facial mimicry and to provide evidence for distinct patterns of facial muscle activation when viewing individual emotion categories, suggesting that facial mimicry is emotion-specific, rather than just valence-based.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-61563-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7069962PMC
March 2020

Evaluating the Role of Autistic Traits, Social Anxiety, and Social Network Changes During Transition to First Year of University in Typically Developing Students and Students on the Autism Spectrum.

J Autism Dev Disord 2020 Aug;50(8):2832-2851

Centre for Applied Autism Research, Department of Psychology, University of Bath, Bath, BA2 7AY, UK.

This is the first longitudinal study to quantitatively evaluate changes in social network structure (SNS) and perceived social support (PSS) amongst first-year students on the autism spectrum (n = 21) and typically developing (TD; n = 182) students transitioning to university. The relative impact of changes in SNS/PSS, students' social anxiety and autistic traits, on first-year university transition outcomes were also examined. Both groups gained friends over time who provided better support quantity and quality during first year of university. Social anxiety showed long-term differential negative impact on students on the autism spectrum and TD students' academic, social and personal/emotional adjustments, and institutional attachment, suggesting stakeholders should focus on delivering interventions to reduce social anxiety to improve university transition outcomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10803-020-04391-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7374465PMC
August 2020

A framework of evidence-based practice for digital support, co-developed with and for the autism community.

Autism 2020 08 6;24(6):1411-1422. Epub 2020 Feb 6.

Sorbonne University, France.

Lay Abstract: Digital supports are any type of technologies that have been intentionally developed to improve daily living in some way. A wide array of digital supports (such as apps) have been developed for the autism community specifically, but there is little or no evidence of whether they work or not. This study sought to identify what types of evidence the autistic community valued and wanted to see provided to enable an informed choice to be made regarding digital supports. A consensus was developed between autistic people and their families, practitioners (such as therapists and teachers) as well as researchers, to identify the core aspects of evidence that everyone agreed were useful. In all, 27 people reached agreement on three categories for which evidence is required: reliability, engagement and the effectiveness of the technology. Consensus was also reached on four key sources of evidence for these three categories: hands-on experience, academic sources, expert views and online reviews. The resulting framework allows for any technology to be evaluated for the level of evidence identifying how effective it is. The framework can be used by autistic people, their families, practitioners and researchers to ensure that decisions concerning the provision of support for autistic people is informed by evidence, that is, 'evidence-based practice'.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1362361319898331DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7376625PMC
August 2020

Differences in anxieties and social networks in a group-matched sample of autistic and typically developing students transitioning to university.

Autism 2020 07 19;24(5):1138-1151. Epub 2019 Dec 19.

University of Bath, UK.

Transitioning to university can be anxiety-provoking for all students. The relationship between social anxiety, autistic traits and students' social network structure, and perceived support is poorly understood. This study used a group-matched design where autistic students ( = 28) and typically developing students ( = 28) were matched on sex, age (17-19 years), ethnicity, pre-university academic performance and degree subject at university. Autistic students reported greater transition to university worries, and a smaller social network size compared to typically developing students, though perceived similar levels of support from their social networks. Autistic and typically developing students showed differential patterns of association with both autistic traits and social anxiety. Broader clinical and practical implications of findings are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1362361319894830DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7433695PMC
July 2020

Is There a Relationship Between Cyber-Dependent Crime, Autistic-Like Traits and Autism?

J Autism Dev Disord 2019 Oct;49(10):4159-4169

Department of Psychology, Centre for Applied Autism Research, University of Bath, Bath, BA2 7AY, UK.

International law enforcement agencies have reported an apparent preponderance of autistic individuals amongst perpetrators of cyber-dependent crimes, such as hacking or spreading malware (Ledingham and Mills in Adv Autism 1:1-10, 2015). However, no empirical evidence exists to support such a relationship. This is the first study to empirically explore potential relationships between cyber-dependent crime and autism, autistic-like traits, explicit social cognition and perceived interpersonal support. Participants were 290 internet users, 23 of whom self-reported being autistic, who completed an anonymous online survey. Increased risk of committing cyber-dependent crime was associated with higher autistic-like traits. A diagnosis of autism was associated with a decreased risk of committing cyber-dependent crime. Around 40% of the association between autistic-like traits and cyber-dependent crime was mediated by advanced digital skills.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10803-019-04119-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6751221PMC
October 2019

Self-reported motivations for offending by autistic sexual offenders.

Autism 2020 02 28;24(2):307-320. Epub 2019 Jun 28.

University of Bath, UK.

Autism spectrum disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder estimated to have elevated prevalence in forensic populations (approximately 4.5%). It has been suggested that offenders with autism spectrum disorder engage more frequently in crimes against the person and sexual offences than other types of offences such as property, driving and drug offences. To date little is empirically known about the reasons why autistic individuals engage in sexual offences, yet understanding the motivation(s) for offending are key to developing and implementing effective interventions to help reduce both initial offending and also re-offending. In this study, semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine autistic sexual offenders in prisons and probation services across England and Wales. Thematic analyses revealed five main themes (social difficulties, misunderstanding, sex and relationship deficits, inadequate control and disequilibrium). Analyses indicated that social skills difficulties, lack of perspective/weak central coherence, misunderstanding the seriousness of their behaviours and a lack of appropriate relationships were the main reasons for offending reported by this group of autistic sexual offenders. Findings highlight a need to develop sex and relationship education interventions which are tailored to the needs of autistic individuals, to address both their reported reasons for offending and their reported lack of sexual knowledge and awareness.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1362361319858860DOI Listing
February 2020

Exploring how material cues drive sensorimotor prediction across different levels of autistic-like traits.

Exp Brain Res 2019 Sep 27;237(9):2255-2267. Epub 2019 Jun 27.

Sport and Health Sciences, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, St Luke's Campus, Heavitree Road, Exeter, EX1 2LU, Devon, UK.

Recent research proposes that sensorimotor difficulties, such as those experienced by many autistic people, may arise from atypicalities in prediction. Accordingly, we examined the relationship between non-clinical autistic-like traits and sensorimotor prediction in the material-weight illusion, where prior expectations derived from material cues typically bias one's perception and action. Specifically, prediction-related tendencies in perception of weight, gaze patterns, and lifting actions were probed using a combination of self-report, eye-tracking, motion-capture, and force-based measures. No prediction-related associations between autistic-like traits and sensorimotor control emerged for any of these variables. Follow-up analyses, however, revealed that greater autistic-like traits were correlated with reduced adaptation of gaze with changes in environmental uncertainty. These findings challenge proposals of gross predictive atypicalities in autistic people, but suggest that the dynamic integration of prior information and environmental statistics may be related to autistic-like traits. Further research into this relationship is warranted in autistic populations, to assist the development of future movement-based coaching methods.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00221-019-05586-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6675774PMC
September 2019

Developing an Online Tool to Measure Social Network Structure and Perceived Social Support Amongst Autistic Students in Higher Education: A Feasibility Study.

J Autism Dev Disord 2019 Sep;49(9):3526-3542

Centre for Applied Autism Research, Department of Psychology, University of Bath, Claverton Down, BA2 7AY, Bath, UK.

The academic, daily-living, and social challenges all students face during university transition can become magnified for many autistic students, who might struggle to adapt to changes in their social network structure (SNS) and perceived social support (PSS). This study assessed the development, feasibility, and convergent validity of a novel online tool (Social Network and Perceived Social Support-SNaPSS) designed to quantitatively and qualitatively evaluate SNS and PSS during university transition. SNaPSS demonstrated good feasibility for completion amongst autistic students (Study 1, n = 10, 17-19 years), and adequate convergent validity against other PSS, autism symptom severity, and social anxiety measures amongst autistic (n = 28) and typically developing students (Study 2, n = 112, 17-19 years). Broader implications of SNaPSS to measure SNS/PSS are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10803-019-04070-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6667418PMC
September 2019

Shy Geek, Likes Music, Technology, and Gaming: An Examination of Autistic Males' Online Dating Profiles.

Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw 2019 May 2;22(5):344-348. Epub 2019 Apr 2.

2 Department of Psychology, Centre for Applied Autism Research, University of Bath, Bath, United Kingdom.

Dating involves a range of complex social skills that autistic adults can often find challenging. Many autistic adults have turned to online dating, which in theory may ameliorate these social difficulties. The aim of this study was to explore, for the first time, how autistic males describe themselves in online dating profiles. The online dating profiles of 52 self-identified autistic males were analyzed using a combination of frequency and thematic analyses. A common pattern of self-description was identified, involving a combination of both desirable and undesirable characteristics. Themes included interests, negative descriptions of personality, ideal match, and autism. Findings are discussed in terms of desirability, the norms of online dating, and the benefits and costs of computer-mediated communication for autistic male online daters.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2018.0607DOI Listing
May 2019

Autism and the transition to university from the student perspective.

Autism 2019 08 22;23(6):1531-1541. Epub 2018 Dec 22.

2 University of Bath, UK.

University provides individuals with the opportunity to develop greater independence in living skills and social networks, while also gaining valuable qualifications. Despite a high proportion of autistic individuals aspiring to attend university, many either do not seek or gain entry or drop out prematurely. Although some steps have been taken to develop effective support, a recent review highlighted the scarcity of research into programmes designed to support autistic students transitioning to university. In addition, few studies have examined the views of autistic students themselves. This study investigated the perspectives of autistic students transitioning to university. Three focus groups were conducted with 25 autistic students preparing to start university. Participants were asked about their hopes for starting university, as well as their worries and concerns. Data were analysed using thematic analysis, from which five main themes were identified: and . The results provide an important account of the challenges autistic students face when transitioning to university, as well as their aspirations. These findings have a number of practical implications.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1362361318803935DOI Listing
August 2019

Syllogistic reasoning reveals reduced bias in people with higher autistic-like traits from the general population.

Autism 2019 07 9;23(5):1311-1321. Epub 2018 Nov 9.

2 University of Bath, UK.

Recent theories of autism have emphasised the cognitive strengths and weaknesses in those with autism, which are also seen to some degree in non-clinical samples with higher autistic-like traits. The dual process theory of autism proposes that people with autism and non-clinical people with a higher degree of autistic-like traits have a propensity to show reduced intuitive processing (automatic and typically faster) alongside enhanced propensity towards deliberative processing (dependent on general cognitive ability and typically slower). This study aimed to further test the dual process theory of autism by investigating syllogistic reasoning (whether a conclusion can be logically deduced from two propositions) in addition to the cognitive reflection test (correct responses to which reflect deliberative processing over-riding intuitive processing) with respect to the degree of autistic-like traits and general cognitive ability in a non-clinical sample of 189 adults. Results showed that higher levels of autistic-like traits were related to lower levels of intuitive processing and higher levels of deliberative processing, which was found across both the syllogistic reasoning and cognitive reflection test measures - over and above the effect of general cognitive ability. The findings are consistent with the dual process theory of autism, and implications for autism are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1362361318808779DOI Listing
July 2019

Evaluation of a Transition to University Programme for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

J Autism Dev Disord 2020 Jul;50(7):2397-2411

Centre for Applied Autism Research, Department of Psychology, University of Bath, Bath, BA2 7AY, UK.

Applying to university can be an anxiety-provoking time for many autistic students, though enrolment can be increased by actively involving them in transition planning. We provide an evaluation of a transition to university pilot programme (Autism Summer School) for autistic students (16-19 years) who are seeking to apply/attend university. The content focused on introducing students to various aspects of university life including academic (sample lectures), social (e.g., clubs and societies), and daily living (eating in university canteen and staying in student accommodation). Students' quantitative and qualitative feedback are positive and promising, showing significant reduction across a range of concerns related to transition to university after the programme, as well as general optimism related to starting university.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10803-018-3776-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7308263PMC
July 2020

Incongruence Between Observers' and Observed Facial Muscle Activation Reduces Recognition of Emotional Facial Expressions From Video Stimuli.

Front Psychol 2018 6;9:864. Epub 2018 Jun 6.

Centre for Applied Autism Research, Department of Psychology, University of Bath, Bath, United Kingdom.

According to embodied cognition accounts, viewing others' facial emotion can elicit the respective emotion representation in observers which entails simulations of sensory, motor, and contextual experiences. In line with that, published research found viewing others' facial emotion to elicit automatic matched facial muscle activation, which was further found to facilitate emotion recognition. Perhaps making congruent facial muscle activity explicit produces an even greater recognition advantage. If there is conflicting sensory information, i.e., incongruent facial muscle activity, this might impede recognition. The effects of actively manipulating facial muscle activity on facial emotion recognition from videos were investigated across three experimental conditions: (a) explicit imitation of viewed facial emotional expressions (stimulus-congruent condition), (b) pen-holding with the lips (stimulus-incongruent condition), and (c) passive viewing (control condition). It was hypothesised that (1) experimental condition (a) and (b) result in greater facial muscle activity than (c), (2) experimental condition (a) increases emotion recognition accuracy from others' faces compared to (c), (3) experimental condition (b) lowers recognition accuracy for expressions with a salient facial feature in the lower, but not the upper face area, compared to (c). Participants (42 males, 42 females) underwent a facial emotion recognition experiment (ADFES-BIV) while electromyography (EMG) was recorded from five facial muscle sites. The experimental conditions' order was counter-balanced. Pen-holding caused stimulus-incongruent facial muscle activity for expressions with facial feature saliency in the lower face region, which reduced recognition of lower face region emotions. Explicit imitation caused stimulus-congruent facial muscle activity without modulating recognition. Methodological implications are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00864DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5997820PMC
June 2018

Sex differences in facial emotion recognition across varying expression intensity levels from videos.

PLoS One 2018 2;13(1):e0190634. Epub 2018 Jan 2.

Department of Psychology, University of Bath, Bath, Somerset, United Kingdom.

There has been much research on sex differences in the ability to recognise facial expressions of emotions, with results generally showing a female advantage in reading emotional expressions from the face. However, most of the research to date has used static images and/or 'extreme' examples of facial expressions. Therefore, little is known about how expression intensity and dynamic stimuli might affect the commonly reported female advantage in facial emotion recognition. The current study investigated sex differences in accuracy of response (Hu; unbiased hit rates) and response latencies for emotion recognition using short video stimuli (1sec) of 10 different facial emotion expressions (anger, disgust, fear, sadness, surprise, happiness, contempt, pride, embarrassment, neutral) across three variations in the intensity of the emotional expression (low, intermediate, high) in an adolescent and adult sample (N = 111; 51 male, 60 female) aged between 16 and 45 (M = 22.2, SD = 5.7). Overall, females showed more accurate facial emotion recognition compared to males and were faster in correctly recognising facial emotions. The female advantage in reading expressions from the faces of others was unaffected by expression intensity levels and emotion categories used in the study. The effects were specific to recognition of emotions, as males and females did not differ in the recognition of neutral faces. Together, the results showed a robust sex difference favouring females in facial emotion recognition using video stimuli of a wide range of emotions and expression intensity variations.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0190634PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5749848PMC
February 2018

Supporting metacognitive monitoring in mathematics learning for young people with autism spectrum disorder: A classroom-based study.

Autism 2019 01 26;23(1):60-70. Epub 2017 Oct 26.

University of Bath, UK.

Previous research suggests impaired metacognitive monitoring and mathematics under-achievement in autism spectrum disorder. Within educational settings, metacognitive monitoring is supported through the provision of feedback (e.g. with goal reminders and by explicitly correcting errors). Given the strength of the relationship between metacognition, learning and educational attainment, this research tested new computer-based metacognitive support (the 'Maths Challenge') for mathematics learners with autism spectrum disorder within the context of their classroom. The Maths Challenge required learners to engage in metacognitive monitoring before and after answering each question (e.g. intentions and judgements of accuracy) and negotiate with the system the level of difficulty. Forty secondary school children with autism spectrum disorder and 95 typically developing learners completed the Maths Challenge in either a Feedback condition, with metacognitive monitoring support regarding the accuracy of their answers, goal reminders and strategy support, or with No Feedback. Contrary to previous findings, learners with autism showed an undiminished ability to detect errors. They did, however, demonstrate reduced cohesion between their pre- and post-test intentions. Crucially, support from the Feedback condition significantly improved task performance for both groups. Findings highlight important implications for educational interventions regarding the provision of metacognitive support for learners with autism to ameliorate under-performance in mathematics within the classroom.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1362361317722028DOI Listing
January 2019

Brief Report: Intuitive and Reflective Reasoning in Autism Spectrum Disorder.

J Autism Dev Disord 2017 08;47(8):2595-2601

Department of Psychology, University of Bath, Bath, BA2 7AY, UK.

Dual Process Theory has recently been applied to Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to suggest that reasoning by people with ASD and people with higher levels of ASD-like traits can be characterised by reduced intuitive and greater reflective processing. 26 adolescents and adults with ASD and 22 adolescent and adult controls completed an assessment of ASD-like traits, the cognitive reflections test (CRT) to measure intuitive and reflective reasoning and an index of general cognitive ability. The ASD group produced less intuitive responses, and the degree of ASD-like traits showed a negative correlation with intuitive responses and positive correlation with reflective responses on the CRT. Together, these results are consistent with ASD being associated with reduced intuitive reasoning and greater deductive reasoning.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10803-017-3131-3DOI Listing
August 2017

The Development and Validation of the Empathy Components Questionnaire (ECQ).

PLoS One 2017 11;12(1):e0169185. Epub 2017 Jan 11.

Dept. of Psychology, University of Bath, Bath, United Kingdom.

Key research suggests that empathy is a multidimensional construct comprising of both cognitive and affective components. More recent theories and research suggest even further factors within these components of empathy, including the ability to empathize with others versus the drive towards empathizing with others. While numerous self-report measures have been developed to examine empathy, none of them currently index all of these wider components together. The aim of the present research was to develop and validate the Empathy Components Questionnaire (ECQ) to measure cognitive and affective components, as well as ability and drive components within each. Study one utilized items measuring cognitive and affective empathy taken from various established questionnaires to create an initial version of the ECQ. Principal component analysis (PCA) was used to examine the underlying components of empathy within the ECQ in a sample of 101 typical adults. Results revealed a five-component model consisting of cognitive ability, cognitive drive, affective ability, affective drive, and a fifth factor assessing affective reactivity. This five-component structure was then validated and confirmed using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) in an independent sample of 211 typical adults. Results also showed that females scored higher than males overall on the ECQ, and on specific components, which is consistent with previous findings of a female advantage on self-reported empathy. Findings also showed certain components predicted scores on an independent measure of social behavior, which provided good convergent validity of the ECQ. Together, these findings validate the newly developed ECQ as a multidimensional measure of empathy more in-line with current theories of empathy. The ECQ provides a useful new tool for quick and easy measurement of empathy and its components for research with both healthy and clinical populations.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0169185PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5226785PMC
August 2017

Reasoning on the Autism Spectrum: A Dual Process Theory Account.

J Autism Dev Disord 2016 06;46(6):2115-2125

Department of Psychology, University of Bath, Bath, BA2 7AY, UK.

Dual process theory proposes two distinct reasoning processes in humans, an intuitive style that is rapid and automatic and a deliberative style that is more effortful. However, no study to date has specifically examined these reasoning styles in relation to the autism spectrum. The present studies investigated deliberative and intuitive reasoning profiles in: (1) a non-clinical sample from the general population with varying degrees of autism traits (n = 95), and (2) males diagnosed with ASD (n = 17) versus comparisons (n = 18). Taken together, the results suggest reasoning on the autism spectrum is compatible with the processes proposed by Dual Process Theory and that higher autism traits and ASD are characterised by a consistent bias towards deliberative reasoning (and potentially away from intuition).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10803-016-2742-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4860198PMC
June 2016

Validation of the Amsterdam Dynamic Facial Expression Set--Bath Intensity Variations (ADFES-BIV): A Set of Videos Expressing Low, Intermediate, and High Intensity Emotions.

PLoS One 2016 19;11(1):e0147112. Epub 2016 Jan 19.

Department of Psychology, University of Bath, Bath, United Kingdom.

Most of the existing sets of facial expressions of emotion contain static photographs. While increasing demand for stimuli with enhanced ecological validity in facial emotion recognition research has led to the development of video stimuli, these typically involve full-blown (apex) expressions. However, variations of intensity in emotional facial expressions occur in real life social interactions, with low intensity expressions of emotions frequently occurring. The current study therefore developed and validated a set of video stimuli portraying three levels of intensity of emotional expressions, from low to high intensity. The videos were adapted from the Amsterdam Dynamic Facial Expression Set (ADFES) and termed the Bath Intensity Variations (ADFES-BIV). A healthy sample of 92 people recruited from the University of Bath community (41 male, 51 female) completed a facial emotion recognition task including expressions of 6 basic emotions (anger, happiness, disgust, fear, surprise, sadness) and 3 complex emotions (contempt, embarrassment, pride) that were expressed at three different intensities of expression and neutral. Accuracy scores (raw and unbiased (Hu) hit rates) were calculated, as well as response times. Accuracy rates above chance level of responding were found for all emotion categories, producing an overall raw hit rate of 69% for the ADFES-BIV. The three intensity levels were validated as distinct categories, with higher accuracies and faster responses to high intensity expressions than intermediate intensity expressions, which had higher accuracies and faster responses than low intensity expressions. To further validate the intensities, a second study with standardised display times was conducted replicating this pattern. The ADFES-BIV has greater ecological validity than many other emotion stimulus sets and allows for versatile applications in emotion research. It can be retrieved free of charge for research purposes from the corresponding author.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0147112PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4718603PMC
July 2016

Autistic characteristics in adults with epilepsy and perceived seizure activity.

Epilepsy Behav 2015 Nov 6;52(Pt A):244-50. Epub 2015 Nov 6.

Department of Psychology, University of Bath, UK.

Unlabelled: The prevalence of autism spectrum disorders in epilepsy is approximately 15%-47%, with previous research by Wakeford and colleagues reporting higher autistic traits in adults with epilepsy. The aim of this study was to investigate autistic characteristics and their relationship to having seizures by employing two behavioral assessments in two samples: adults with epilepsy and controls.

Method: The study employed the Social Responsiveness Scale - Shortened (SRS-S) (patients with epilepsy (n=76), control (n=19)) and the brief Repetitive Behavior Scale - Revised (RBS-R) (patients with epilepsy (n=47), control (n=21)). This study employed a unique method to quantify the extent to which autistic characteristics are related to perceived mild seizure activity. Adults with epilepsy were instructed to rate their usual behavior on each assessment and, at the same time, rate their behavior again when they perceived that they were having mild seizure activity.

Results: Significantly higher SRS-S scores were related to having a diagnosis of epilepsy and were perceived by adults with epilepsy to increase during mild seizure activity. These scores positively correlated with antiepileptic drug control. No difference was found for RBS-R scores in adults with epilepsy compared with controls.

Conclusion: Together, these results suggest that adults with epilepsy have higher autistic characteristics measured by the social responsiveness scale, while sameness behaviors remain unimpaired. The autistic characteristics measured by the social responsiveness scale were reported by adults with epilepsy to be more severe during their mild seizure activity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.yebeh.2015.08.031DOI Listing
November 2015

Deficits in metacognitive monitoring in mathematics assessments in learners with autism spectrum disorder.

Autism 2016 May 22;20(4):463-72. Epub 2015 Jun 22.

University of Bath, UK.

Children and adults with autism spectrum disorder have been found to have deficits in metacognition that could impact upon their learning. This study explored metacognitive monitoring in 28 (23 males and 5 females) participants with autism spectrum disorder and 56 (16 males and 40 females) typically developing controls who were being educated at the same level. Participants were asked a series of mathematics questions. Based upon previous research, after each question they were asked two metacognitive questions: (1) whether they thought they had got the answer correct or not (or 'don't know') and (2) whether they meant to get the answer correct or not (or 'don't know'). Participants with autism spectrum disorder were significantly more likely than the typically developing group to erroneously think that they had got an incorrect answer correct. Having made an error, those with autism spectrum disorder were also significantly more likely to report that they had meant to make the error. Different patterns in the types of errors made were also identified between the two groups. Deficits in metacognition were identified for the autism spectrum disorder group in the learning of mathematics. This is consistent with metacognitive research from different contexts and the implications for supporting learning in autism spectrum disorder are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1362361315589477DOI Listing
May 2016

The effect of diagnostic labels on the affective responses of college students towards peers with 'Asperger's Syndrome' and 'Autism Spectrum Disorder'.

Autism 2016 May 4;20(4):388-94. Epub 2015 Jun 4.

University of Bath, UK.

Given the removal of Asperger's Syndrome label in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fifth Edition, the impact of clinical labels upon the affective responses of college students was explored. A total of 120 college students read two vignettes depicting social interactions typical of a person with autism spectrum disorder. In one vignette, they were informed that the character was a typical college student and in the other, the character had a clinical disorder (either autism spectrum disorder, Asperger's Syndrome or Schizophrenia). Participants' affective responses were measured on the Positive and Negative Affect Scale. No significant differences in positive and negative affective responses were found between the clinical labels. However, affective responses were significantly more positive and less negative towards behaviours associated with clinical groups compared to the typical college student. The implications for students disclosing their diagnosis at university are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1362361315586721DOI Listing
May 2016

Emotion recognition in animated compared to human stimuli in adolescents with autism spectrum disorder.

J Autism Dev Disord 2015 Jun;45(6):1785-96

Department of Psychology, University of Bath, Bath, BA2 7AY, UK,

There is equivocal evidence as to whether there is a deficit in recognising emotional expressions in Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This study compared emotion recognition in ASD in three types of emotion expression media (still image, dynamic image, auditory) across human stimuli (e.g. photo of a human face) and animated stimuli (e.g. cartoon face). Participants were 37 adolescents (age 11-16) with a diagnosis of ASD (33 male, 4 female). 42 males and 39 females served as typically developing, age-matched controls. Overall there was significant advantage for control groups over the ASD group for emotion recognition in human stimuli but not animated stimuli, across modalities. For static animated images specifically, those with ASD significantly outperformed controls. The findings are consistent with the ASD group using atypical explicit strategies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10803-014-2338-9DOI Listing
June 2015

Autistic characteristics in adults with epilepsy.

Epilepsy Behav 2014 Dec 30;41:203-7. Epub 2014 Oct 30.

Department of Psychology, University of Bath, Bath, UK.

Introduction: The reported prevalence of autism spectrum disorders in people with epilepsy ranges from 15% to 47%. Despite the high comorbidity, there has been a lack of systematic studies of autistic characteristics in epilepsy. Little is known about the relationship of epilepsy to the core characteristics of autism. The aim of this research was to measure autistic traits and characteristics in adults with epilepsy who do not have a diagnosis of any autism disorder.

Method: We investigated autistic characteristics in adults with epilepsy and those without epilepsy employing the Autism Spectrum Quotient (group with epilepsy, n = 40; control group, n = 38) and systemizing and empathizing abilities employing the Intuitive Physics test and the Adult Eyes Task-Revised (group with epilepsy, n = 19; control group, n = 23).

Results: Significantly more autistic behavioral traits, as measured by the AQ, were related to having epilepsy, but intact systemizing and empathizing abilities in these adults suggest that, in adults with epilepsy, autism-like symptoms may be present in the absence of wider cognitive profiles characteristic of autism.

Conclusion: Increased autistic characteristics found in adults with epilepsy without an ASD diagnosis suggest that epilepsy syndromes may incorporate behavioral aspects of autism in the absence of some of its core cognitive features.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.yebeh.2014.09.045DOI Listing
December 2014
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