Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 290–298

Extinction of Over-selected Stimuli Causes Emergence of Under-selected Cues in Higher-functioning Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders

  • Phil Reed
  • Laura Broomfield
  • Louise McHugh
  • Aisling McCausland
  • Geraldine Leader
Original Paper

Abstract

Two experiments examined whether over-selectivity is the product of a post-acquisition performance deficit, rather than an attention problem. In both experiments, children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder were presented with a trial-and-error discrimination task using two, two-element stimuli and over-selected in both studies. After behavioral control by the previously over-selected stimulus was extinguished, behavioral control by the previously under-selected cue emerged without direct training. However, this effect was only found in higher-functioning children, and not with more severely impaired children. These findings suggest that over-selectivity is not simply due to a failure to attend to all of the stimuli presented. They also suggest that extinction of over-selected stimuli may be a fruitful line of intervention for clinical intervention for some individuals.

Keywords

Over-selectivity Behavioral control Extinction Comparator deficit Attentional deficit 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Phil Reed
    • 1
  • Laura Broomfield
    • 1
  • Louise McHugh
    • 1
  • Aisling McCausland
    • 2
  • Geraldine Leader
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologySwansea UniversitySwanseaUK
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyNational University of Ireland – GalwayGalwayIreland

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