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Cambridge Laboratory for Research into Autism


Kate_148_217Kate Plaisted-Grant is Senior Lecturer in Developmental Disorders at the Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge. She is also a Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge, where she is Director of Studies in Psychology.

Kate's interest in researching autism and Asperger's Syndrome was sparked by the fascinating perceptual and cognitive strengths shown by many individuals on the autism spectrum. These include exceptional abilities to process fine details, better discrimination abilities compared to typical individuals and an ability to show highly focussed attention. An important question is whether these perceptual and cognitive strengths provide the key to understanding some of the difficulties for individuals with autism and Asperger's Syndrome.

One of the most challenging aspects of autism is the difficulty many find in generalising or transferring their learning from one place to another. Sudden changes in aspects of the environment, like new items of furniture or change to routine can also be very distressing. Some of these difficulties may result from differences in the way the autistic brain processes how similar and how different things are to one another. One of the main aims of Kate's research is to uncover the mechanisms that cause generalisation difficulties in order to help generalisation and adaptation to change.