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  • About
  • The Global ETD Search service is a free service for researchers to find electronic theses and dissertations. This service is provided by the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations.
    Our metadata is collected from universities around the world. If you manage a university/consortium/country archive and want to be added, details can be found on the NDLTD website.

Cognitive mechanisms underlying savant skills in autism

Wallace, Gregory Lawrence January 2006 (has links)
This thesis aimed to investigate possible cognitive underpinnings of sayant skills in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Since savant skills are overrepresented amongq individuals with ASD, several cognitive functions thought to be intact or enhanced in these individuals were hypothesised to contribute to savant skill development. In particular, central coherence, implicit learning, perceptual functioning, and infonnation processing speed were assessed in a group of nonsavant children with ASD (n=28), age, IQ, and gender (group-wise) matched controls (n=28), a group of typicall~' developing children (n=64), and finally a series of four savants with ~~SD. Consistent with previous reports, weak central coherence, Intact implicit learning and infonnation processing speed, and particularly good ability to reproduce a time window were shown in both savant and nons avant individuals with ASD. Savants also showed indications of good memory and idiosyncratic sensory functioning. As predicted, there was evidence that infonnation processing speed was IQ independent in ASD whereas it was significantly related to IQ in both comparison groups. There was also preliminary indication, via correlations and subgroup analyses, of cross modal central coherence, particularly within the ASD group. A "gateway model", in which certain cognitive functions need to be intact (or superior) in order for individuals (especially those with ASD) to develop savant skills, was proposed to account for these findings. The present findings are preliminary in nature but provide indications that certain cognitive functions more characteristic of the cognitive profile in .\SD may be necessary but insufficient for savant skill development.

A study of intensive outpatient psychotherapy with sexually abused children

Jones, Hilary January 2004 (has links)
This is a study of the usefulness of psychoanalytic psychotherapy in the treatment of a group of severely disturbed children, for each of whom there was good evidence of sexual abuse. This abuse had begun early in life; and had been perpetrated within a family by one or more male figures; in the presence of a mother who was unable to intervene. The purpose of the study was to examine whether, and how, such treatment could be of help to the child. It was felt necessary to approach the work via a small group of detailed case studies; partly because the children are uncommon, and a large statistical study would be difficult to organise (cf Trowell 2001). Further, the existence of a sort of diagnostic category to describe the children was really only elucidated by the process of making the detailed case studies in the therapy room and through supervision. Thus it was possible to make an examination of the mental and emotional processes which had brought about the children's condition and of approaches that were likely to help; and to review when and in what circumstances the child was helped. This approach was therefore more open-ended than a statistical study could be. Its similarities, for example, continuous review and triangulation, with the method defined by Glaser and Strauss (1967), in the field of Sociology, as Grounded Theory, are described below; as is the method of doing this via sessions with the child as part of his/her treatment, and the recording of an archive of notes (data collection); subsequent triangulation against the literature that was found to help; data analysis through first and second supervisions; and further review and analysis leading to conclusions and recommendations for practice. For this purpose, therefore, the case study technique was found to be more appropriate. Findings were that a group of children exists among those who have been sexually abused, who are not truly psychotic but who have precarious contact with reality. The precariousness of reality for them derives from the lack of emotional comprehension on the part of a mother figure, who, for reasons described below, has a heavy emotional investment in the child's abuse by a partner of hers - that is to say, the whole family group is involved in a dire failure of the oedipal triangle. This group of children, probably synonymous with the Tavistock Society's category of Multiple Traumatic Loss, defy understanding by experienced workers who rely on the child's having some trust in the strength and power of adults. They were better understood by the researcher when the concept of the Dangerous Inner Object became available (Dubinsky and Dubinsky 1998) - their distrust is so overwhelming, because their experiences are so adverse, that they have no hope of help, but have to learn about it, against all their beliefs. In the field of Attachment, such children are described as Disorganised, and as hating and fearing the simultaneously needed attachment figure. This description seems both apt and accurate from a descriptive and diagnostic point of view. It also enables links to be made with work published in the field of neuroscience by workers such as Schore (2001) and Siegel (1999) - see below; but the writer has found the Dangerous Object idea more helpful to the treatment process, in which the aim is for the child to acquire and to internalise over however long a time is needed, a different and more integrated kind of object development. Because of the difficulty of doing this work without considerable background in theory, and because of the intensity and time input needed, the researcher's conclusion was that lasting improvement, measured by the sense of relief in the child as well as improved functioning (but not measured in terms of ease of management by the adults) would only be achieved where psychotherapy was used. Naturally the child would also need a stable, understanding Holding Environment as well as educational facilities which could work with him/her; though it was found that the child's ability to make use of education and other sources of help improved with the therapeutic treatment.

The role of adult neurogenesis on learning and memory in humans and animals with temporal lobe epilepsy

Barkas, Lisa Jane January 2013 (has links)
Mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE) is the most common drug resistant form of epilepsy, and is associated with progressive memory impairment. Currently there is no pharmacological means to restore memory function in these patients, making it a significant unmet therapeutic need. This research thesis shows severe impairment in spatial memory acquisition and long term retention on a virtual Morris Water Maze (MWM) task in patients who had trans-slyvian selective amagdalohippocampectomies as treatment for MTLE. This pattern of impairment was also found in patients with MTLE and with MRI positive hippocampal sclerosis. Memory impairment in MTLE has been associated with depleted levels of stem cell derived new neurons, a process called neurogenesis which occurs almost exclusively in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus; a brain area frequently associated with memory. Rats with kainate induced epilepsy also show learning and memory deficits on a MOlTis Water Maze We have shown that neurogenesis is depleted in chronic animal models of epilepsy, supporting the theory that there is a temporary increase in neurogenesis post insult but then a chronic depletion in the levels of neurogenesis. We are also one of a very small number of studies able to show abnonnal neurite sprouting in new neurons born in the chronically epileptic hippocampus. Uniquely we have been able to restore spatial learning ability and reverse the reduction in neurogenesis seen in chronically epileptic animals by administration of chronic dose of fluoxetine, although this did not alleviate the accelerated forgetting impairment. This opens a possible therapeutic avenue for h·eating spatial memory impairment in patients with MTLE.

Dyslexia in pre-registration nursing students : strategies for developing clinical competencies

White, Jean January 2006 (has links)
This study explored the difficulties dyslexic nursing students have in achieving clinical competence, what coping strategies they employ and how they may be supported in practice, thus enabling them to meet the standards to register as a nurse. A qualitative research study utilising case study methodology was chosen so that in addition to the personal experiences of individual dyslexic students, the wider social and cultural context that influences nurse education could be considered. All eleven students who participated had difficulty in clinical practice attributable to the nature and severity of their dyslexia. These difficulties involved dealing with verbal and written information, comprehension, constructing reports, remembering things, and being able to prioritise and organise their work within specific timeframes. There was evidence of tension felt by staff about upholding the rights of the dyslexic student seeking to become a registered nurse against the potential risk they thought the student posed to patients/clients. This tension influenced the relationships between staff and students. The diagnosis of dyslexia impacted negatively on the students' self-image, particularly affecting those diagnosed as adults. Timing and nature of the work in clinical placements either assisted or further challenged the dyslexic students in the achievement of clinical competence. The students identified a range of coping strategies, including the use of informal support networks. The students desired the formation of peer support groups. The relationship the students had with their mentors was key to the development of clinical competencies. It is recommended that all mentors receive preparation in supporting students with specific learning needs. Bronfenbrenner's (1979) Ecological Systems Theory was used as a framework to explain the implications of this study. The recommendations have relevance for policy makers, regulators and providers of nurse education, as well as for individual dyslexic nurses.

Phonological output impairments in aphasia : different subgroups requiring different therapies?

Waldron, Heather Marguerita January 2013 (has links)
Background: One of the few studies to describe therapy for phonological assembly difficulties in aphasia is a single case by Franklin, Buerk and Howard (2002). Their client improved significantly in picture naming for treated and untreated words after therapy targeting auditory awareness and self-monitoring. Aims: This thesis comprises two studies. Study one aimed to determine whether the generalised improvements reported by Franklin et al (2002) are replicable with other people with impaired phonological assembly, and to explore any differences in outcome. Study two aimed to compare the effectiveness of Franklin et al’s therapy with a production-focussed approach. The overall aim of both studies was to discover whether different subgroups of people with phonological assembly difficulties may respond differently to therapy, and whether any differences in treatment outcome may provide insight into theoretical models of phonological output processing. Method: A case series of eight participants with aphasia with mixed impairments including phonological assembly difficulties is reported. In study one, four participants received a replication of the treatment described by Franklin et al. In study two, four further participants received a novel production therapy in addition to Franklin et al’s therapy. Outcomes: No participant responded in the same way as Franklin et al’s original client. All post-therapy naming improvements were item-specific, except for one participant, who also showed signs of spontaneous recovery. Two participants showed no significant naming improvements after either treatment. Conclusions: Whereas Franklin et al’s original client had a relatively pure post-lexical phonological assembly impairment, six of the eight participants in the current study had phonological assembly difficulties combined with either lexical retrieval or motor speech impairments. The item-specific naming gains were proposed to reflect improved mapping between semantics and lexical phonology, rather than improved phonological assembly. These results support a model of speech production containing both lexical and post-lexical levels of phonological processing.

Theory of mind in children with autism : is there a need for better tests of what they know?

Proto, Alex Karen January 1999 (has links)
This research looked at the ability of children with autism to understand theory of mind. This is the ability to attribute mental states (e.g. believing, thinking, knowing etc.) to oneself and to others. The main aim of the study was to provide evidence, contrary to a large body of previous research, that individuals with autism can exhibit a theory of mind, when the standard tests used in the past are simplified for this population. A further aim of the study was to show that language ability is significant in terms of theory of mind task performance. It was hypothesised, because of the nature of the theory of mind tasks, that matching participants in terms of their understanding of grammar, rather than single word understanding (as in past research), would be more appropriate. Three groups took part in the study; autistic, learning disabled and normally developing children. The learning disabled and normally developing participants were selected to match the subjects with autism, in terms of receptive verbal age, on either the British Picture Vocabulary Scale (BPVS) or the Test for Reception of Grammar (TROG) or both. All the participants were given two first order theory of mind tasks; the standard 'Sally-Anne' task, which has been used in past research, and a simplified cartoon version of this task designed by the author. These first order tasks test the ability to consider another person's thoughts about an objective event. Those participants who passed one of the first order tasks were then given three second order theory of mind tasks. These test the ability to consider another person's thoughts about a third person's thoughts regarding an objective event. The second order tasks consisted of the standard 'Ice-Cream Man task' (used in past research), Sullivan, Zaitchik and Tager-Flusberg's (1994) simplified 'Puppy task' and a simplified cartoon version of the task designed by the author. A significant difference in performance was found between the three participant groups (matched on the BPVS) on the standard first order task, but not on the simplified first order task. A significant difference in performance was found between the participant groups on the standard Ice-Cream Man task and the Puppy task, when matched on the BPVS, but not when matched on the TROG. In addition no significant difference in performance was found between the autistic and learning disabled participants on any of the theory of mind tasks. These findings are discussed in relation to other explanations of autism such as the salient object hypothesis and executive function.

Post-natal depression in first time fatherhood

Worwood, Emma Victoria January 1999 (has links)
It is gradually becoming acknowledged that fathers do suffer from post-natal depression, but very little is known about their experience or how many fathers are actually affected. The factors that may increase a father's susceptibility to post-natal depression, or those that might indeed protect him, have also been given little consideration in research to date. This study examined the prevalence and comorbidity of post-natal depression in 100 first time parents, using the Edinburgh Post-natal Depression Scale (EPDS). The psychological factors of infant temperament, perception of own parenting and social support were investigated in a smaller sample of 30 fathers subsequently interviewed. These were measured using the Neonatal Perception Inventory (NPI), the Parental Bonding Instrument (PBI) and the Significant Others Scale (SOS) respectively. The findings suggest that approximately 12 per cent of first time fathers may suffer from post-natal depression and fathers are significantly more likely to experience this if their partner is also depressed. Depression amongst fathers was found to be associated with having little social support, perceiving one's own baby as more difficult than the average baby and perceiving one's own father as having been uncaring. The findings are discussed together with their clinical implications and areas for future research.

Using Emotional and Autobiographical Material to Study Facial EMG, Subjective Emotional Experience

Cox, Georgina Rose January 2008 (has links)
This thesis examined the effect ofdysphoria on emotional experience and memory processes using standardised emotion-eliciting stiinuli and Autobiographical Memories (AMs). In the first two experiments, facial Electromyographic (EMG) responses were recorded whilst participants viewed emotional stimuli. Facial EMG responses were found to be influenced by the category of stimulus type used, as well as the ratings of emotional content. In addition, facial EMG responses were found to be different for participants who were actively appraising the stimuli, compared to participants who were viewing them passively. In the next study, the effect of dysphoria on facial EMG responses and self-reported emotional experience was investigated. Although there were few differences between dysphoric and non-dysphoric individuals in their facial EMG responses or subjective emotional experience when confronted with emotional stimuli, differences were found in participants' AMs. Although memory for experimentally-presented emotional stimuli did not differ between the two groups, dysphoric individuals displayed mood-congruent memory biases when recalling AMs, verbally describing negative AMs using a higher proportion of negative emotion words, and recalling a low proportion of specific AMs compared with non-dysphoric individuals. To extend the AM finding, a personally relevant emotion-eliciting task was developed and tested on normal participants. This methodology was refined in a final study which investigated the effect of dysphoria on emotional experience and mood-congruent memory recall of AMs. During the recall ofAMs, dysphoric individuals displayed a number of heightened negative emotional responses and to a lesser degree, blunted positive emotional responses, compared with non-dysphoric individuals. However, the two groups did not differ in the amount of specific AMs that they recalled. Taken together, the results from these studies emphasize the degree to which emotional responses in both dysphoric and non-dysphoric participants differ depending on the type of stimuli used, and the exact task being performed.

Experiencing support: Parents of children diagnosed with ASD

Morris, Hannah Christina January 2013 (has links)
The aim of this study was to explore the differentiated experiences of parents who have a child with a diagnosis of ASD and investigate how parental engagement varies with a range of different circumstances, care time-lines and family backgrounds. This study reports data from seven parents who have a child with a diagnosis of ASD. Information was gathered through semi-structured interviews and the use of an events timeline. All data was analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. The analysis confirmed that parents have very different experiences across the care-pathway. Some parents experienced a number of critical periods whereby they found it particularly difficult to cope with their child's behaviour. Relationships with professionals were extremely important in building parental confidence across the whole care-pathway. Parents cited that they would like more professionals to develop further care-giving skills in partnership building in order to understand, appreciate and include the parent voice. The study provides recommendations for all professionals and services working with parents who have a child with ASD, in particular the need for professional training in care-giving skills, the importance of providing early intervention in complex cases and the need for additional support at crisis points and during the secondary years.

The use of gesture in aphasia therapy

Caute, Anna January 2013 (has links)
Purpose: This study investigated whether gesture, naming and communication therapy enhanced the communication skills of 14 people with severe aphasia. It compared the gains made in gesture and naming therapy and evaluated whether there were any cross-modality gains. It also investigated whether improvements generalised to untreated items and explored factors that might influence individual participants' success in therapy. It probed whether participants were able to use gestures and words learnt in communicative scenarios with a partner and the benefits of involving the partner in therapy. Method: All participants received 15 hours of therapy that aimed to teach 20 pantomime gestures and 20 spoken or written words (Therapy A). Seven participants then progressed to a second is-hour phase of therapy that aimed to develop the communicative use of gesture alongside other strategies (Therapy B). Their partners attended all sessions and were actively involved. The other seven participants received_ no further therapy. A repeated measures design was used. Outcome measures evaluated the intelligibility of pantomime gestures and the accuracy of spoken or written words. Two novel tasks investigated the communicative use of gesture and naming. These evaluated participants' ability to convey messages and narratives to their partner. All assessments included items that had been treated for gesture and for naming as well as untreated items. Results: The outcome measures showed that participants' ability to name and gesture items was stable at baseline and then improved significantly following Therapy A. Improvements on these assessments were confined to treated items with no evidence of cross-modality generalisation. Overall, gains were greater for naming than gesturing items, although there was considerable individual variation with three participants making greater gains in gesture than naming. Performance on the communicative assessments was also stable at baseline and improved following Therapy A. On these tasks gains were evident in messages and video narratives that involved untreated as well as treated items. Participants who received Therapy B made further improvements on the message assessment, but not the video narrative assessment. Conclusions: People with severe aphasia improved in their ability to produce both pantomime gestures and words following therapy, but they generally made greater gains in naming items. However, there was considerable individual variation in response to therapy in the two modalities, suggesting that gesture therapy may be a more fruitful approach for some but not all people with severe aphasia. Gains were confined to treated items, suggesting that gesture therapy should focus on items that are likely to be used in everyday communication. The results suggest that gesture and naming therapy can lead to improvements in people with aphasia's ability to convey information to their partner. Therapy involving communication partners led to some further gains in conveying messages, but the benefits of this approach were less marked.

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