Seminar 2: Programme


The Developmental Bubble

9:00 – 16:00, Monday 23rd March 2015
Bramber House, University of Sussex

Location: Gallery Room 1, University of Sussex Conference Centre, Bramber House

09:00 – 09:30: Arrival and Refreshments
09:30 – 09:45: Welcome from the Digital Bubbles organisers
09:45 – 10:00: Real world challenges in autism service provision

Mr Richard Brown, Chairman – Autism Sussex

10:00 – 11:00: Investigating and Treating Social Gaze

Professor Ouriel Grynszpan, Institute for Intelligent Systems and Robotics (ISIR), University of Pierre et Marie Curie

A new trend in research seeks to design novel methods empowered by advanced digital technology, for addressing core deficits in ASD. The talk will first present a meta-analysis of these interventions that provides evidence for their efficacy. This will be followed by the description of a cognitive training program that targets executive dysfunctions and social communication deficits attributed to ASD. The talk will then focus on social gaze and how it can be investigated and treated using technology.
A main challenge for this field of research is to adapt the technology to the specific developmental alterations attributed to ASD. Social gaze is commonly viewed as having a pivotal role in the developmental course of ASD. The presentation will report on studies that employed eye-tracking technologies to explore self-monitoring of gaze in social contexts. The gaze-contingent system and virtual humans are now being used for an intervention dedicated to training social gaze in adolescents with ASD.
The talk will conclude with ongoing projects based on a virtual environment that represents a virtual human avatar whose gaze can be controlled in real-time by the gaze of the user. The potential of such technology to further our understanding of ASD will be discussed.

11:00 – 11:15: COFFEE BREAK
11:15 – 12:15: What is Imitation?

Dr Antonia Hamilton, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London

Imitation is about more than just learning to use objects. In this talk, I will argue that imitation has multiple functions and draws on multiple different brain systems. Some of these functions are easy for children with autism and others are hard. I will present data from both behavioural studies of children and from brain imaging studies to show how cognitive models allow us to make sense of imitation behaviour. By understanding the different types of imitation and the different brain systems which support them, we can learn more about how to encourage social imitation in autism.

12:15 – 12:30: Plenary discussion and roundup
12:30 – 13:30: LUNCH (including research posters)
13:30 – 14:00: A Day in the Life…

Mr Mark Bushby, Autism Sussex

In this talk I will consider the issue of autism awareness, and perspectives on autism, In so doing, I will cover topics such as a day in the life of individuals with autism, building up trust, and communication preferences.

14:00 – 15:00: Engagement and Autism

Professor Vasu Reddy, Department of Psychology, University of Portsmouth

If engagement matters in development, then it is crucial to understand better what we might mean by it, how it is manifested on the ground, and how it relates to what we might think of as its ‘opposite’. In this talk I use data about different aspects of engagement from typically developing infants and from pre-school children with autism to ask how this might help us identify what it is in engagement that is worth intervening for, and how one could best do this.

15:00 – 15:15: COFFEE BREAK
15:15 – 15:50: Response to talks and plenary discussion

Dr Hanne de Jaegher, IAS Research Centre for Life, Mind and Society, University of the Basque Country: Discussant

15:50 – 16:00: Concluding comments from the seminar organisers