Aideen McParland PhD student

Psychology Research Institute
 Picture of Aideen   McParland

Title: The impact of early childhood experiences on pychopathology and suicidal behaviour in Northern Ireland: Risk and protective factors

Title: Using eye-tracking technology to operantly condition the gaze behaviour of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs)

Start date: September 2014

My PhD research uses the latest eye-tracking technology to investigate social behaviours, and more specifically, gaze behaviour of children who have received a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). Children with ASD often demonstrate atypical gaze behaviour towards social stimuli. These children have been found to look around faces, or completely ignore this socially rich source of information. This current research has created original compilations of static, dynamic, and 3D social stimuli to explore this atypical gaze behaviour in greater detail. In addition, this research is the first of its kind to intervene and help teach ‘typical’ gaze behaviour when faced with social stimuli. Study 2 of this PhD has shown this can be effective using principles of behaviour analysis (shaping and reinforcement) with ASD children now gazing towards the faces of actors for longer and fixating on them quicker. This research will extend to real world contexts using eye-tracking glasses, and exciting and novel advance in eye-tracking research.