Study Title: Attention and Perception in Autism Spectrum Conditions

A personal account of taking part in a study at the Autism Research Centre in Cambridge,, accompanied by photographs, with some interesting and important links and some more photographs.

INTRODUCTION

The main body of this post is a personal account of my involvement in the study whose title I have used for the whole post, run as so often at the Autism Research Centre in Cambridge. I also have a variety of links and a few photos that are not directly connected with the title piece but which I wish to share. I hope you will all enjoy this post and that you will take the opportunity of sharing it.

ATTENTION AND PERCEPTION IN AUTISM SPECTRUM CONDITIONS

THE PRELIMINARIES

i found out about this study just five days ago, and made contact with the person conducting it. A brief exchange of emails concluded with an arrangement for me to attend at 11AM today. As part of the preparation I had to answer various questions and solve  various puzzles online.

GETTING THERE

An scheduled start of 11AM meant getting the 8:57 from King’s Lynn, and to make sure that I got my travel expenses reimbursed I carefully got a receipt. It was shortly after getting on to the platform that I brought the camera into action for the first time of the day…

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Pictures taken through the windows of moving trains are tough to get right, but these two worked out okay…

"A goods train: the shame of it" Gordon the Big Engine in the Rev W Awdry series
“A goods train: the shame of it” Gordon the Big Engine in the Rev W Awdry series
I could get a clear shot of the whole of Ely Cathedral, but this shows the main tower and the octagonal construction designed by a 14th century Prior known only and uninformatively as Alan of Norwich.
I could not get a clear shot of the whole of Ely Cathedral, but this shows the main tower and the octagonal construction designed by a 14th century Prior known only and uninformatively as Alan of Norwich.

Arriving in Cambridge I decided to take a longer route than usual to the Autism Research Centre, heading towards town as far as this church…

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Turning on to the link road that connects to the town end of Trumpington Road I passed the Scott Polar Research Institute, named in honour of Robert Falcon Scott, one of the most famous runners up in history. Scott also gave his name to an itinerant cricket team some of whose deeds are chronicled in Penguins Stopped Play by Harry Thompson and Rain Men by Marcus Berkmann. Although I could not get a shot of the whole building without crossing to the wrong side of a busy road I did get these shots…

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Next up was the Cambridge University Chemical Laboratory…

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At the very point of turning onto Trumpington Road I passed Hobson’s Conduit…

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This is the first major building on Trumpington Road itself, on the opposite side of ti to me…

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A shot of the water alongside Trumpington Road…

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I next passed the public entrance to Cambridge Botanic Gardens (the admission price convinced me to go no further than the gates)…

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A little bit further along I passed a locked gate into the same establishment, with some red flowers growing next to it…

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The last shot I got before arriving at the Autism Research Centre was of this dragon fly (or similar), which although quite large was moving exceedingly fast, hence why I got only the one usable shot…

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AT THE AUTISM RESEARCH CENTRE

I arrived at the centre at about 10:40, and did not have to wait too long for Owen Parsons, who was conducting the study, to put in an appearance. After the usual preliminaries of form signing and checking the experiment itself ran in three parts…

MIND YOUR TS AND LS

For this test one had eight seconds in total to view an intermittent display of red and blue letters, most of which were Ls but one of which was a T. The task was to identify which colour the T was and click the appropriate button to record that identification. A wrong identification, or wrong button pressed, or being timed out generated a horrible beep.

IDENTIFYING DUPLICATION

For this part of the process one was required to press the space bar each time the same image was shown twice consecutvely. The images were all of full scenes, but shown at thumbnail size. Again, a misidentification or a failure to identify within the time limit generated a beep. There was then a second part to this section, involving familiarity. One was shown sequences of three images and asked to identify the set that looked more familiar. The pictures were similar in nature and size to those previously shown, but some were definitely new.

WHICH BOX WAS THAT X IN?

For this third and final part of the experiment, there were four boxes in which an X could appear. When it appeared one had to identify the box as follows: X for leftmost, Z for left-centre, N for right-centre, M for rightmost. Thus, the duration of this section of the experiment was spent with the index and middle fingers of each hand poised over the keys in question. There was then a second subsection, involving pattern identification and made more complicated by two factors:

1)Obviously enough, not knowing about this in advance I was not especially looking for a pattern in the first stage of the process.

2)The pattern was not adhered to at all times (about 15% of the time, the X appeared in a box it was not ‘supposed’ to).

All in all, I quite enjoyed performing these tests, and would say that it is a worthwhile study. If you are aged 18-45, have been diagnosed with an Autistic Spectrum Condition and can get to Cambridge, contact Owen Parsons: oep20@cam.ac.uk about taking part in the study.

GETTING BACK

There was a small delay getting back to the main building from the place where the study had been set up as Owen initially came out without his swipe card, during which I snared this shot…

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On my way back to the street I took a shot of the front of the main building…

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I opted for the short route back to the station,along Brooklands Avenue and past the new bus interchange to approach the train station from that angle. I got these shots in the course of that walk…

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I got a couple of shots en route to the platform as well…

A worthy effort to represent all of Britain's railways on one map.
A worthy effort to represent all of Britain’s railways on one map.
A somewhat loose definition of London & the Southeast!
A somewhat loose definition of London & the Southeast!

On my way off the train at King’s Lynn I took the opportunity to capture this plaque on camera…

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LINKS

As regular readers of this blog or those who follow me on twitter will be well aware I regularly sign and share petitions, and my first link is to a piece from Huffington Post detailing the success of one such, concerning the Henry family.

My next link is to Mike Sivier of Vox Political on the subject of a possible Greek default.

Next up is this about the effect of London on social housing.

Then we have this on the origins of turtles.

WELCOME TO A NEW FOLLOWER

The next two links both relate to autism, and indeed to the website of a recent follower of mine:

1)The main website, ambitiousautismambassador

2)A particular impressive post taking on stereotyping.

AN IMPORTANT PETITION

My final link is to a petition on change.org protesting against a planned European law that will mean the end of photography as we know it – PLEASE SIGN AND SHARE!!

A FEW FINAL PICTURES

While my right to do so remains I am sharing these photos…

Stand E, on the occasion I first used it, Tuesday AM
Stand E, on the occasion I first used it, Tuesday AM
The new electronic displays now at every stand.
The new electronic displays now at every stand.
Vancouver and the Custom House
Vancouver and the Custom House
I realised before using it as part of my bus fare that this 50p was of a style I had not previously seen.
I realised before using it as part of my bus fare that this 50p was of a style I had not previously seen.
A close up of the detailed board at Stand E
A close up of the detailed board at Stand E

Author: Thomas

I am branch secretary of NAS West Norfolk and #actuallyautistic (diagnosed 10 years ago at the comparatively advanced age of 31). I am a keen photographer, so that most of my own posts contain photos. I am a keen cricket fan and often write about that subject. I also focus a lot on politics and on nature.

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