Date Thesis Awarded

5-2012

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)

Department

Psychology

Advisor

Paul Kieffaber

Committee Member

Cheryl L. Dickter

Committee Member

Paul Davies

Abstract

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.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Comments

Thesis is part of Honors ETD pilot project, 2008-2013. Migrated from Dspace in 2016.

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