Date of Award
Bachelor of Science
It has been previously demonstrated that contagion of yawning and laughter is significantly reduced in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in comparison to age-matched typically developing (TD) children, but contagion of itch has not been studied in this population. In this study, 55 children with ASD and 55 TD children, all aged 9-14, were exposed to video clips depicting actors yawning, laughing, and itching. In line with previous data, children with ASD demonstrated decreased contagious yawning and laughter in comparison to their TD peers. Surprisingly, they demonstrated increased contagious itch compared to their TD peers. However, susceptibility to contagion of itch and autism severity as measured by total ADOS score were unrelated. In addition, the location of the stimulus itch had no impact on the susceptibility to contagious itch in either group. Potential implications on mirror neuron theory as it pertains to ASD and the origin of mimicry deficits in ASD are explored.
Schineller, Molly, "Increased Contagious Itch in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)". Senior Theses, Trinity College, Hartford, CT 2018.
Trinity College Digital Repository, https://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu/theses/705