Mindblindness An Essay On Autism And Theory Of Mind. Cambridge

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While he is away his mother moves the chocolate bar to a different cupboard and the children are asked which cupboard Maxi will go to for his chocolate when he returns.

The results showed that older children (92% aged 6- to 7-years) said that Maxi would look in the cupboard where he left his chocolate bar, whereas 58% of children aged 4- to 5-years said he would look in the cupboard that his mother had moved the chocolate bar to (Wimmer and Perner, 1983).

Wimmer and Perner (1983) developed the classic FBT, the unexpected transfer task, in which children are asked to infer the beliefs of Maxi regarding his chocolate bar.

Maxi (a doll or puppet) puts his chocolate in one cupboard and then goes out of the room.

It is argued that humans have an innate predisposition to make inferences about their own and other people’s behaviour in order to predict and understand behaviour and that these mental processes have evolved because of the generally social and co-operative nature of life (Baron-Cohen, 1995).

Mitchell and Lewis (1994) further argue that humans frequently attempt to manipulate the behaviour of others and one way of achieving this to instil a false belief, which can be achieved through the use of deception.The following essay will explore research that has investigated children with ASD and the question of whether they are able to develop a To M is supported or refuted.The methodology used to establish whether a To M has developed during early childhood is known as a false belief task (FBT).ASD is a spectrum disorder and can range from autism with severe impairments to Asperger’s Syndrome which means the individual is high functioning and has a typical IQ (Adams, 2013). It is suggested by Senju, Southgate, White, and Frith (2009) that high functioning individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome are more likely to develop a conceptual understanding of a To M in comparison to those with classic autism. As children with ASD have several cognitive impairments it was proposed that the failure to pass the FBT may be related to learning difficulties. However, when the children with ASD were compared with a control group of typically developing children and a group of children with Down’s syndrome, learning difficulties were not found to affect the successful performance for the children with Down’s (Baron-Cohen et al.1985). However, even with instruction the children with ASD did not improve and remained unable to pass the FBT, although the 3-year old typically developing children showed improvement. Autistic adolescents show atypical activation of the brains mentalizing system even without a prior history of mentalizing problems. The research identifies cognitive limitations in the typically developing children at age 3 which affects their performance, whereas the children with ASD appeared to be caused by a ‘deeper meta-representational impairment’ (Surian and Leslie, 1999, p.141). Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of UK Essays.A Theory of Mind (To M) can be defined as the way in which children aged 3-to-4 years begin to develop a theory about their own and other people’s mental states, which include beliefs, intentions, knowledge and desires (Baron-Cohen, 1995).


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