Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 40, Issue 11, pp 1332–1349

Stimulus Overselectivity Four Decades Later: A Review of the Literature and Its Implications for Current Research in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10803-010-0990-2

Cite this article as:
Ploog, B.O. J Autism Dev Disord (2010) 40: 1332. doi:10.1007/s10803-010-0990-2


This review of several topics related to “stimulus overselectivity” (Lovaas et al., J Abnormal Psychol 77:211–222, 1971) has three main purposes: (1) To outline the factors that may contribute to overselectivity; (2) to link the behavior-analytical notion of overselectivity to current nonbehavior-analytical research and theory; and (3) to suggest remedial strategies based on the behavior-analytical approach. While it is clear that overselectivity is not specific to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and also that not all persons with ASD exhibit overselectivity, it is prevalent in ASD and has critical implications for symptoms, treatment, research, and theory. Weak Central Coherence and Enhanced Perceptual Functioning theories are briefly considered. The research areas addressed here include theory of mind, joint attention, language development, and executive function.


AutismStimulus overselectivitySelective attentionBehavior analysisJoint attentionTheory of mind

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, College of Staten IslandCity University of New YorkStaten IslandUSA
  2. 2.PhD Programs in Biopsychology & Behavioral Neuroscience (Psychology) and Neuroscience (Biology)Graduate School & University Center, City University of New YorkNew YorkUSA