Original Paper

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

  • Bertram O. PloogAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, College of Staten Island, City University of New YorkPhD Programs in Biopsychology & Behavioral Neuroscience (Psychology) and Neuroscience (Biology), Graduate School & University Center, City University of New York Email author 

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Abstract

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.

Keywords

Autism Stimulus overselectivity Selective attention Behavior analysis Joint attention Theory of mind