The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology : Neurocognitive Approaches to Developmental Disorders : A Festschrift for Uta Frith. (septembre 2010)

mercredi 15 septembre 2010

The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology propose un dossier spécial sur les approches neurocognitives dans les troubles du développement dans son numéro de septembre 2010.

1. Uta Frith Bibliography. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology ;2008 (2008/01/01) ;61(1):3-12.

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2. Snowling MJ, Bishop DVM, Blakemore S-J. Editorial. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology ;2008 (2008/01/01) ;61(1):13-15.

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3. Bishop DVM. Forty years on : Uta Frith’s contribution to research on autism and dyslexia, 1966–2006. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology ;2008 (2008/01/01) ;61(1):16-26.

Uta Frith has made a major contribution to our understanding of developmental disorders, especially autism and dyslexia. She has studied the cognitive and neurobiological bases of both disorders and demonstrated distinctive impairments in social cognition and central coherence in autism, and in phonological processing in dyslexia. In this enterprise she has encouraged psychologists to work in a theoretical framework that distinguishes between observed behaviour and the underlying cognitive and neurobiological processes that mediate that behaviour.

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4. Sodian B, Thoermer C. Precursors to a Theory of Mind in infancy : Perspectives for research on autism. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology ;2008 (2008/01/01) ;61(1):27-39.

There is ample evidence for a conceptual deficit in normally developing 3-year-olds’ and autistic children’s understanding of the mind. Recent research using nonverbal tasks has challenged this view since even 15-month-old infants appear to base their action predictions on a representation of the agent’s beliefs (Onishi & Baillargeon, 2005). Our own findings from looking-time experiments indicate, however, that 16-month-olds’ action predictions depend on behavioural and situational cues, rather than on a person’s access to information. Further research is reviewed that indicates that 14-month-olds understand what another person can and cannot see, and that 18-month-olds predict a person’s action from what she previously saw, when supported by behavioural cues. These findings support a constructivist view of a gradual understanding of conditions for knowing during the second year. The relevance of such findings for research on autism is discussed.

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5. Blakemore S-J. Development of the social brain during adolescence. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology ;2008 (2008/01/01) ;61(1):40-49.

Adolescence is usually defined as the period of psychological and social transition between childhood and adulthood. The beginning of adolescence, around the onset of puberty, is characterized by large hormonal and physical changes. The transition from childhood to adulthood is also characterized by psychological changes in terms of identity, self-consciousness, and cognitive flexibility. In the past decade, it has been demonstrated that various regions of the human brain undergo development during adolescence and beyond. Some of the brain regions that undergo particularly protracted development are involved in social cognitive function in adults. In the first section of this paper, I briefly describe evidence for a circumscribed network of brain regions involved in understanding other people. Next, I describe evidence that some of these brain regions undergo structural development during adolescence. Finally, I discuss recent studies that have investigated social cognitive development during adolescence.

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6. Happé FGE, Booth RDL. The power of the positive : Revisiting weak coherence in autism spectrum disorders. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology ;2008 (2008/01/01) ;61(1):50-63.

This paper reexamines Frith’s original concept of weak coherence, its historical origins, recent reformulations, and alternative accounts. We suggest that the key notion of reduced global integration of information, which Frith proposed to underlie the assets in local processing, has been neglected in recent accounts of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). In fact, most paradigms used to test weak coherence conflate global and local processing, often placing them in direct trade-off, so that it is not possible to tell whether patterns of performance in ASD reflect reduced global processing, increased local processing, or both. We review the literature from typical development and ASD that may be pertinent to this distinction and examine some data from our own studies. Only once tasks are devised that measure separately the effects of reduced global processing and increased local processing will it be possible to test the on-line and developmental relations between these two aspects of ?weak coherence ?. Some preliminary ideas about these relationships are discussed, and suggestions are made for why disentangling two possibly independent dimensions of weak coherence may be timely and productive.

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7. Baron-Cohen S. Autism, hypersystemizing, and truth. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology ;2008 (2008/01/01) ;61(1):64-75.

Evidence is reviewed suggesting that, in the general population, empathizing and systemizing show strong sex differences. The function of systemizing is to predict lawful events, including lawful change, or patterns in data. Also reviewed is the evidence that individuals on the autistic spectrum have degrees of empathizing difficulties alongside hypersystemizing. The hypersystemizing theory of autism spectrum conditions (ASC) proposes that people with ASC have an unusually strong drive to systemize. This can explain their preference for systems that change in highly lawful or predictable ways ; why they become disabled when faced with systems characterized by less lawful change ; and their ?need for sameness ? or ?resistance to change ?. If ?truth ? is defined as lawful patterns in data then, according to the hypersystemizing theory, people with ASC are strongly driven to discover the ?truth ?.

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8. Perner J, Leekam S. The curious incident of the photo that was accused of being false : Issues of domain specificity in development, autism, and brain imaging. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology ;2008 (2008/01/01) ;61(1):76-89.

We resume an exchange of ideas with Uta Frith that started before the turn of the century. The curious incident responsible for this exchange was the finding that children with autism fail tests of false belief, while they pass Zaitchik’s (1990) photograph task (Leekam & Perner, 1991). This finding led to the conclusion that children with autism have a domain-specific impairment in Theory of Mind (mental representations), because the photograph task and the false-belief task are structurally equivalent except for the nonmental character of photographs. In this paper we argue that the false-belief task and the false-photograph task are not structurally equivalent and are not empirically associated. Instead a truly structurally equivalent task is the false-sign task. Performance on this task is strongly associated with the false-belief task. A version of this task, the misleading-signal task, also poses severe problems for children with autism (Bowler, Briskman, Gurvidi, & Fornells-Ambrojo, 2005). These new findings therefore challenge the earlier interpretation of a domain-specific difficulty in inferring mental states and suggest that children with autism also have difficulty understanding misleading nonmental objects. Brain imaging data using false-belief, ?false ?-photo, and false-sign scenarios provide further supporting evidence for our conclusions.

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9. de Vignemont F. Frames of reference in social cognition. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology ;2008 (2008/01/01) ;61(1):90-100.

How is mindreading affected by social context ? It is often implicitly assumed that there is one single way to understand others, whatever the situation or the identity of the person. In contrast, I emphasize the duality of functions of mindreading depending on the context (social interaction and social observation), as well as the duality of social frames of reference (egocentric and allocentric). I argue in favour of a functional distinction between knowledge-oriented mindreading and interaction-oriented mindreading. They both aim at understanding other people’s behaviour. But they do so using different strategies. However, to say that mindreading has two functions does not suffice to show that there are two kinds of mindreading. One and the same ability could accomplish different functions. Unfortunately, there has been almost no experimental data on a possible dissociation between two kinds of mindreading abilities. Nonetheless, I discuss a few results that point towards a dual ability.

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10. Hamilton AFdC. Emulation and mimicry for social interaction : A theoretical approach to imitation in autism. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology ;2008 (2008/01/01) ;61(1):101-115.

The ?broken-mirror ? theory of autism argues that dysfunction of the ?mirror neuron system ? is a root cause of social disability in autism. The present paper aims to scrutinize this theory and, when it breaks down, to provide an alternative. Current evidence suggests that children with autism are able to understand and emulate goal-directed actions, but may have specific impairments in automatic mimicry of actions without goals. These data are not compatible with the broken-mirror theory, but can be accounted for by a new model called EP-M. The EP-M model segments the mirror neuron system into an indirect, parietal route for goal emulation and planning (EP) and a direct occipital-frontal route for mimicry (M). This fractionation is consistent with neuroimaging and behavioural studies of the mirror neuron system in typical children and adults. I suggest that top-down modulation of the direct M route may be dysfunctional in individuals with autism, leading to abnormal behaviours on mimicry tasks as well as other social disabilities.

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11. Anderson M. What can autism and dyslexia tell us about intelligence ?. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology ;2008 (2008/01/01) ;61(1):116-128.

This paper argues that understanding developmental disorders requires developing theories and models that explicitly represent the role of general intelligence in the cognitive phenotype of the disorder. In the case of autism it is argued that the low-IQ scores of people with autism are not likely to be due to a deficit in the cognitive process that is arguably the major cause of mental retardation ?namely, speed of processing ?but rather low IQ reflects the pervasive and cascading effects of the deficit in the information-processing module that causes autism. In the case of dyslexia, two radically different models of reading disorder (ability = disability and a modular deficit model) are likely to be influenced by the effect of general intelligence on reading performance in ways that will remain unclear without an explicit model of how general intelligence influences reading.

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12. Ramus F, Szenkovits G. What phonological deficit ?. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology ;2008 (2008/01/01) ;61(1):129-141.

We review a series of experiments aimed at understanding the nature of the phonological deficit in developmental dyslexia. These experiments investigate input and output phonological representations, phonological grammar, foreign speech perception and production, and unconscious speech processing and lexical access. Our results converge on the observation that the phonological representations of people with dyslexia may be intact, and that the phonological deficit surfaces only as a function of certain task requirements, notably short-term memory, conscious awareness, and time constraints. In an attempt to reformulate those task requirements more economically, we propose that individuals with dyslexia have a deficit in access to phonological representations. We discuss the explanatory power of this concept and we speculate that a similar notion might also adequately describe the nature of other associated cognitive deficits when present.

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13. Snowling MJ. Specific disorders and broader phenotypes : The case of dyslexia. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology ;2008 (2008/01/01) ;61(1):142-156.

Two studies investigating the cognitive phenotype of dyslexia are described. Study 1 compared three groups of English and Italian children on speed of processing tasks : (a) children with dyslexia, (b) generally delayed poor readers and (c) CA-controls. In tests of simple and choice reaction time and two visual scanning tasks, children with dyslexia performed like controls and significantly faster than generally delayed poor readers. A second prospective longitudinal investigation of children at family risk of dyslexia showed that problems of literacy development were less circumscribed, with affected children showing phonological deficits in the context of more general oral language difficulties. An important finding was that the risk of dyslexia was continuous in this sample ; among at-risk children with normal literacy development, mild impairments of phonological skills were apparent early in development, and subtle difficulties with reading fluency and spelling emerged in early adolescence. A case series extended these findings to show that phonological deficits alone are insufficient to explain literacy difficulties, and it is children with multiple deficits (including language problems) that are more likely to succumb to reading failure.

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14. Blair RJR. Fine cuts of empathy and the amygdala : Dissociable deficits in psychopathy and autism. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology ;2008 (2008/01/01) ;61(1):157-170.

In the current paper, the ?fine cuts ? approach advocated by Uta Frith is applied to our understanding of empathy and amygdala dysfunction in two disorders, psychopathy and autism. A fine cut is made between cognitive (i.e., Theory of Mind) and emotional empathy. The literature with respect to psychopathy and autism and these two functions is then considered. A fine cut is also made between the amygdala’s role in stimulus ?reinforcement association and specific aspects of social cognition. Again the literature with respect to psychopathy and autism and these two functions of the amygdala is considered. It is concluded that while both conditions can be considered disorders of social cognition, fine cuts can be made dissociating the impairments associated with each.

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15. Viding E, Jones AP. Cognition to genes via the brain in the study of conduct disorder. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology ;2008 (2008/01/01) ;61(1):171-181.

Although a single diagnostic label, conduct disorder, is currently applied to children exhibiting antisocial behaviour, multiple routes to the same behavioural phenomena exist. Morton and Frith’s (1995) causal modelling has been fundamentally important in influencing models of cognitive/affective and associated neural differences between callous-unemotional (CU) and reactive/threat-based antisocial behaviour. Current behavioural genetic research is still catching up with the developmental cognitive neuroscience, and very few genetically informative studies differentiate between these two subtypes of antisocial behaviour. Our own work with preadolescent twins suggests that while the CU subtype is genetically vulnerable to antisocial behaviour, the non-CU subtype manifests a primarily environmental aetiology to their antisocial behaviour. Molecular genetic work to date has not differentiated between these two subtypes, and we highlight why it might be of interest to do so. Finally, we discuss how the novel approach of imaging genetics could be harnessed to study genes to cognition pathways for different subtypes of conduct disorder. Uta Frith’s contributions to articulating research strategies for developmental disorders are important in conducting and interpreting this work.

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