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Autism/social psychology: it turned out, that studies maintaining difficulties of autists in ToM tests (>Theory of Mind/ToM/psychological theories, >Theory of Mind/Baron-Cohen, >Theory of Mind/developmental psychology) are not always replicated. >VsBaron-Cohen.
Researchers have argued, that there is less of a deficit in social cognition than previously thought (>Baron-Cohen et al. 1985(1)) and that some of the poorer performances in
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social cognition tasks may be imputed to diminished social orientation (Dawson, Meltzoff, Osterling, Rinaldi, & Brown, 1998(2); Schultz, 2005)(3). If this is the case, performances in these tasks should be boosted when social orienting is enhanced by extrinsic factors.
Speaking to this idea, Wang and collaborators (Wang, Lee, Sigman, & Dapretto, 2007)(4) compared neutral instructions (“Pay close attention”) and explicit social instructions (“Pay close attention to the face and voice”) in a recent study on the neural correlates of irony comprehension in autism.
A similar effect of explicit instructions was also recently found in a task where participants heard both speech and non-speech sounds. In line with previous research (Ceponiene et al., 2003)(5), children with autism had atypical ERP (Event Related Potentials) profiles in response to speech sounds, but not to non-speech sounds.
However, this difference disappeared when participants were explicitly required to pay attention to the sound stream.
In other words, what performance in social tasks might primarily reveal may not be so much what participants are able to do but rather what they are spontaneously inclined to do (see also Chevallier, Noveck, Happé, & Wilson, 2011)(6).
1. Baron-Cohen, S., Leslie, A., & Frith, U. (1985). Does the autistic child have a “theory of mind.” Cognition, 21, 13—125.
2. Dawson, G., Meitzoff, A., Osterling, J., Rinaldi, J., & Brown, E. (1998). Children with autism fail to orient to naturally occurring social stimuli. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 28,479— 485.
3. Schultz, R. (2005). Developmental deficits in social perception in autism: the role of the amygdala and fusiform face area. International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience, 23, 125—141.
4. Wang, A., Lee, S., Sigman, M., & Dapretto, M. (2007). Reading affect in the face and voice: Neural correlates of interpreting communicative intent in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry, 64, 698—708.
5. Ceponiene, R., Lepisto, T., Shestakova, A., Vanhala, R., Alku, P., Naatanen, R., & Yaguchi, K. (2003). Speech-sound-selective auditory impairment in children with autism: They can perceive but do not attend. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 100, 5567—5572.
6. Chevalier, C., Noveck, I., Happé, F., & Wilson, D. (201 1). What’s in a voice? Prosody as a test case for the Theory of Mind account of autism. Neuropsychologia, 49,507—517.
Coralie Chevallier, “Theory of Mind and Autism. Beyond Baron-Cohen et al’s. Sally-Anne Study”, in: Alan M. Slater and Paul C. Quinn (eds.) 2012. Developmental Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies. London: Sage Publications_____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Alan M. Slater
Paul C. Quinn
Developmental Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies London 2012