Graduation Year

2021

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Psychology

Reader 1

Stacey Wood

Reader 2

Alison Harris

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2021 Caroline C Strang

Abstract

Growing evidence suggests that we understand the mental states of others by internally recreating, or simulating, their actions with our own sensorimotor system. For example, the magnitude of the mu rhythm, a neural oscillation between 8 and 13 Hz over sensorimotor cortex, decreases both when individuals perform actions themselves and when they observe the actions of others. This mu suppression is reduced in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a neurodevelopmental disorder associated with atypical social perception and communication. However, individual variation in the sensorimotor mu rhythm, and how it relates to autistic tendencies, remains relatively unexplored. In this study, we quantify variation in the mu rhythm across individual participants by directly comparing its peak frequency during action execution and observation. Consistent with the idea that mu suppression for action execution and observation reflects the same neural generators, the individual peak mu frequency (PMF) for these two tasks was highly correlated. We further compared PMF during action observation as a function of self-reported autistic tendencies within our neurotypical sample. Similar to prior results for alpha frequency in ASD, we observed a significant negative correlation between PMF and AQ, such that slower mu rhythms were associated with higher autistic tendencies. These results provide new insights into how mu rhythms vary across individuals, with potential applications to understanding and identifying social perception differences in ASD.

Available for download on Tuesday, May 03, 2022

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.

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