Author Date

2021-08-06

Degree Name

BS

Department

Neuroscience

College

Family, Home, and Social Sciences

Defense Date

2021-07-27

Publication Date

2021-08-06

First Faculty Advisor

Rebecca A. Lundwall

First Faculty Reader

Jared A. Nielsen

Second Faculty Reader

Scott C. Steffensen

Honors Coordinator

Rebekka Matheson

Keywords

binocular rivalry, approach-avoidance, ACE, facial expression recognition, autism, PTSD

Abstract

Women with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASCs) may be more likely to experience symptoms of trauma exposure due to greater likelihood of facing adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). In order to gain a better understanding of the neural mechanisms involved with ASC and PTSD in women who experience difficulty with social interactions, I examined the ability of two vision tasks-- Binocular Rivalry Perceptual Alternation (BR) and Visual Approach/Avoidance by the Self Task (VAAST)-- to predict symptoms of both conditions as well as differentiate between them. I also examined differences in response to neutral or emotional (angry or fearful) faces under both paradigms. I found that the neutral BR condition as well as VAAST error count were predictive of ASC and PTSD symptomology as measured by the Ritvo Autism Asperger Diagnostic Scale Revised (RAADS-R) and the PTSD Checklist for DSM 5 (PCL-5). Neutral BR switch rates were also significantly predictive of Autism Quotient (AQ) and Social Anxiety Questionnaire (SAQ) scores, but not of general anxiety as measured by the Harm Avoidance segment of the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI). Emotional BR switch rates were only predictive of RAADS-R scores. In addition to highlighting a biological difference that may be measurable in early- and late-stage visual processes, these results may suggest a common, underlying mechanism behind social difficulties in both ASCs and PTSD.

Share

COinS