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The role of emotional processes in the development of autism spectrum disorder

Gaigg, S. B. (2008). The role of emotional processes in the development of autism spectrum disorder. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


The current thesis presents five experiments which suggest that Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are characterised by abnormalities in the processes necessary for the acquisition of emotionally distinct representations of environmental stimuli. In the context of a long standing theoretical debate about the role of emotional disturbances in the development of ASD, this evidence supports the notion that abnormalities in emotional rather than sociocognitive development lie at the root of the disorder. The findings also provide indirect support. for the idea that abnormalities in amygdala functioning may play a central role in the neuropatho\ogy underlying ASD, since this limbic structure is well known to be involved in the mediation of emotional learning processes. Based on the evidence presented in this thesis and in the relevant literature, I develop the argument that developmental abnormalities in basic emotional learning processes may not only explain the socio-emotional disturbances characterising the disorder but also account for some of the non-social manifestations of the ASD phenotype.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Gaigg, Sebastian B - redacted.pdf]
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