Sara Taylor

By William & Mary

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Working Memory, Emotion Processing, and EEG Activity Related to Autistic Behaviors

One in sixty-eight people in the United States is diagnosed with autism (CDC, 2014). Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder characterized by deficits in communication, social, and motor skills (CDC, 2013). Other deficits have been identified in working memory and emotional processing. In a project I completed this past year, I designed a task that measured these two cognitive processes together and found that performance on this task differed as a function of the autistic behaviors participants displayed. For my honors thesis, I will expand this previous work to examine the relationship between working memory and emotion processing in individuals on the autism spectrum using brain imaging (specifically EEG) techniques. This work is unique because there are no EEG studies that have examined the intersection of working memory, emotional processing, and autistic traits. In addition, I will use a sub-clinical sample of participants who will represent individuals along the Broader Autism Phenotype instead of comparing diagnosed and non-diagnosed participants. My study will be able to provide insight into the processes underlying working memory and emotional processing deficits and advantages in autism.

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