Bimodal Virtual Reality Stroop for Assessing Distractor Inhibition in Autism Spectrum Disorders
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Executive functioning deficits found in college students with ASD may have debilitating effects on their everyday activities. Although laboratory studies tend to report unimpaired inhibition in autism, studies of resistance to distractor inhibition reveal difficulties. In two studies, we compared a Virtual Classroom task with paper-and-pencil and computerized Stroop modalities in typically developing individuals and individuals with ASD. While significant differences were not observed between ASD and neurotypical groups on the paper-and-pencil and computerized task, individuals with ASD performed significantly worse on the virtual task with distractors. Findings suggest the potential of the Virtual Classroom Bimodal Stroop task to distinguish between prepotent response inhibition (non-distraction condition) and resistance to distractor inhibition (distraction condition) in adults with high functioning autism.
KeywordsVirtual reality Autism Neuropsychology Executive functioning Stroop Ecological validity
The authors wish to thank Dean Klimchuk and Roman Mitura of Digital Media Works (Kenata, ON, Canada) for the use of their virtual classroom. We are also grateful to Dr. Timothy McMahan for his technical support, as well as Kevin Callahan and the Kristin Farmer Autism Center for assistance in recruiting participants. Finally, we wish to acknowledge the young adults who participated in our study for their time and efforts.
Thomas Parsons led the conceptualization and design of the study, supervised the collection and analyses of the data, drafted the initial manuscript, and revised the manuscript. Anne Carlew collected data and contributed to the data analyses.
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