Thesis Project Form

Title (tentative): Physical human-human interaction in persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Thesis advisor(s): Sanguineti Vittorio, M. Saiano, E. Garbarino (Dip. Cure Primarie, ASL3 Genovese) E-mail:
Address: Via Opera Pia 13 Phone: (+39) 010 353-6487

Motivation and application domain
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are a class of complex neurobehavioral conditions, characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, repetitive and stereotypical forms of behavior, and rigidity in the habits. It has been suggested that in social interaction these persons have problems in understanding their partner’s mental state ( ‘theory of mind’). There are some indications that these persons also have problems with sensorimotor forms of interaction.

General objectives and main activities
The goal of this thesis project is to understand whether persons with ASD are capable of establishing forms of collaboration in motor tasks that require physical interaction with a partner. We will use an experimental apparatus consisting of two haptic interfaces that allow to manipulate the modalities of interaction. The work will have a technical part (design and implementation of one or more motor tasks that require physical interaction among two partners, based on the available experimental apparatus; quantitative assessment of the degree of ‘collaboration’ from movement data) and and experimental part (to carry out experiments to compare the interaction performance of healthy subjects and persons with high-functioning ASD).

Training Objectives (technical/analytical tools, experimental methodologies)
-Development of a haptic software application based on Visual C++
-Conducting experiments with both healthy in impaired subjects
-Analysis of movement data with Matlab

Place(s) where the thesis work will be carried out: Neurolab – DIBRIS (Pad. E, 2° piano); Dip. Cure Primarie, ASL3 Genovese

Additional information

Pre-requisite abilities/skills: desiderabili competenze di programmazione in C++ e Matlab e interesse per attività sperimentale con soggetti umani

Maximum number of students: 2

Financial support/scholarship: non previsto

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