Mentor: Robert Wozniak
The use of gesture plays a large role in how individuals communicate their ideas. Previous research has examined individual differences in gesture production among samples of adults with no known psychiatric diagnoses; but very little research to date has explored how these differences may be present in individuals on the Autism Spectrum. The goal of this study is to explore gesture production in individuals with an Asperger Syndrome (AS) diagnosis. An AS diagnosis often includes a marked impairment in nonverbal communication, which includes the use of gesture. Participants will be recruited from local AS support groups and will participate in a series of tasks in which they are asked to describe a short cartoon clip which they will have just watched, a short written narrative that they will have just read, and an image of a 18th century gown that they will be viewing during their description. Participants will also complete a widely used personality inventory. The focus of data analysis will be on rates of gesture production, choice of different gesture types, and on the degree of asynchrony between gesture and concomitant, semantically relevant speech.