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An Exploration of Neurotypical Perception via our Current Understanding of Neuroatypical Perception

Danielle Holstein (2014); Mentor(s): Laura Perini; Brian Keeley (PIT)

Abstract: Through my ongoing research, I seek to determine how we might explore neurotypical perception using our current understanding of autism despite an epistemic gap. Previous research widely suggests that individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) posses certain characteristics (such as slower language acquisition and impaired social interaction) because of lagging theory of mind development. In my research, I suggest an alternative explanation: we might instead attribute these characteristics to impairments in the efficacy of mirror neurons, neural structures that automatically simulate social and goal-oriented actions. If correct, this account may bolster claims relating to social intuitions as part of a perceptual system. Further, this might allow us to explore both neurotypical and neuroatypical language acquisition and theory of mind development in a new light.
Funding Provided by: National Endowment for the Humanities

Research at Pomona