The role of the prefrontal cortex in social orientation construction: A pilot study

The role of the prefrontal cortex in social orientation construction: A pilot study

Jonathan Bishop

Abstract

The restoring and maximising of well-being in individuals disadvantaged or traumatised by physical, neurological, psychological or social causes therefore becomes a significant issue for all professionals whether in life, social or information sciences. This poster presents a review of the literature to establish a prima facie case for investigating the role of the prefrontal cortex in predetermining outcomes of the with medicalised social orientation impairments such as autism, Bipolar, Schizophrenia, ADHD, as well as problems relating to occupation health and substance misuse. The characteristics of the pre-frontal cortex are identified from a number of journals and then these terms cross references with those impairments. Anseries of equations are presented on how one might look at representing differences in the pre-frontal cortex by using a post-cognitivist psychology paradigm to represent the psycho-analytical concepts of ‘phantasies’ in a manner that allows for use in questionnaire, statistical analysis, and information system adaptation.

Full Text

The role of the prefrontal cortex in social orientation construction: A pilot study

Summary of Conclusions

  • It is emotional dysfunction in the brain that causes most people to be autistic and not them having ‘autism’
  • Someone becomes autistic through a sub-optimal prefrontal cortex which affects working memory, among other factors.
  • A prefrontal cortex can become sub-optimal through lack of brain function to handle social and emotional stressors, such as might be caused by brain injuries such as hippocampal sclerosis
  • It can also become sub-optimal through traumatic abuse, including allergic reactions to vaccines, sex abuse, traumatic birth.
  • Finally, a sub-optimal pre-frontal cortex can come about through genetic mutations in it.
  • The degree of impairment in the prefrontal cortex can be measured through simple alpha and beta brain imaging tools

References

Bishop, J. (2011). The role of the prefrontal cortex in social orientation construction: A pilot study. Poster presented to the British Psychological Society’s Sustainable Well-Being Conference. Glyndwr University, Wrexham, 10 September 2011. Available online at: http://www.jonathanbishop.com/Library/Documents/EN/docBPSSWPoster.pdf

Give us the jobs

Former Assembly Member Jane Davidson’s husband Guy Stoate recently faced disciplinary action for calling a person who took up their freedoms to provide labour by crossing the picket-line a “scab”, weeks after telling me stereotypes were bad.

I think this could stand for something else; “social containment by the able bodied” (Scab).

Autistic people like myself have folders reflecting the number of jobs we have applied for, the numbers of interviews we have got, and the number of jobs we’ve been offered. Far from being “scroungers”, the first pile is so high it is off the scale, the second lucky to be half full, and the third near empty.

We struggle at empathy at the best of times. Dr Philip Dixon said of the Government in relation to the pension strikes: “They are just trying to strong-arm millions of public sector workers into what they want” (Western Mail, June 18). Should we feel sorry that they are going to have to work longer and get a less generous pension? People with autism can only dream of what they are being offered.

We have heard threats of “general strikes” to disrupt the country – well I say bring them on! The disabled people who are stuck rather than “scrounging” on benefits should now offer themselves to the management who once denied them a job, with them giving it to the able-bodied workers now striking instead. I, a four-times graduate, without the salary to match, will be applying for whatever hourly paid lecturer posts are going. If the UK Government means what they say about getting disabled people into work, then they should make it easy for us to cross picket lines and do the jobs we otherwise would be denied by the true Scabs, just as women were before WWII.

Caught red handed – Why is it always the vulnerable?

Once again it is the vulnerable that are facing the full force of the law. The story by Giles Brown (The Press, March 3) of Arie Smith, a 20-year-old with Asperger Syndrome (AS), who is alleged to have looted lighting equipment after the quake shows how we have our priorities wrong. Having a diagnosis of Aspergers myself, I know how without training one can be vulnerable to being singled out by others. Not even I’m perfect in this regard.

In Wales, our former Welsh Prince, Llywelyn had the matrices of the seals of him and his wife, and his brother Dafydd melted down to make a chalice which was given by the English King to Vale Royal Abbey after their theft by Edward I of England as well as his stolen coronet which formed part of the Crown Jewels in 1284. The new powers in Government of Wales Act 2006 approved by the Welsh people in the referendum on March 3 may mean we now have our Seal and legislative powers back, but this may be the best retribution we can hope for after centuries of lost heritage and control.

So let us have a sense of proportion. A few light fittings in a scene of destruction is nothing compared to the theft of the heritage of prized artefacts by English Monarch from my homeland, nor in my opinion the theft of dividends from shareholders and pension funds by greedy directors and other overpaid employees, such as those in finance and energy sectors. Autism authority Simon Baron-Cohen presented a study in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry in 1992 pointing out that people with autism spectrum conditions like AS are likely to be vulnerable to being led astray and ‘caught up in the moment’. Instead of penalising minorities the authorities should be enforcing Company Laws to stopping the theft of profits from investors by company directors and employees knowingly acting in their own interests and not that of the shareholders.

The Role of Augmented E-Learning Systems for Enhancing Pro-Social Behaviour in Socially Impaired Individuals

The Role of Augmented E-Learning Systems for Enhancing Pro-Social Behaviour in Socially Impaired Individuals

Jonathan Bishop

Abstract

E-learning systems generally rely on good visual and cognitive abilities, making them suitable for individuals with good levels of intelligence in these areas. A group of such individuals are those with non-systemising impairments (NSIs), such as people with autism spectrum conditions (ASCs). These individuals could benefit greatly from technology that allows them to use their abilities to overcome their impairments in social and emotional functioning in order to develop pro-social behaviours. Existing systems such as PARLE and MindReading are discussed, and a new one, the Visual Ontological Imitation System (VOIS), is proposed and discussed. This chapter details an investigation into the acceptability of these systems by those working in social work and advocacy. The study found that VOIS would be well received, although dependency on assistive technology and its impact on how others view NSIs still need to be addressed by society and its institutions.

References

Bishop, J. (2011). The Role of Augmented E-Learning Systems for Enhancing Pro-Social Behaviour in Socially Impaired Individuals. In Lau Bee Theng (Ed.) Assistive and Augmentive Communication for the Disabled: Intelligent Technologies for Communication, Learning and Teaching. New York: IGI Global.

The Autistic Qualities of Robin Hood

Firstly I would like to thank the organisers for inviting me to speak at this conference. It is very fitting that we should hold this conference in Mid Wales as it was in this region that Twm Shon Catti, the man known as the Welsh Robin Hood undertook his villainous and heroic activities.

Historical archers, such as the longbowmen from Llantrisant have won battles, such as the Battle of Crécy in 1346, due to not only their skill, but also the leadership shown by those in the army they are part of. Robin Hood is one of the most renowned mythic archers, known for his exceptional skill at archery, purportedly more accurate than the Freemen of Llantrisant as he is known for splitting a competitor’s arrow in an archery contest to snatch victory. Despite this, some stories of Robin Hood suggest that he cannot be compared with the Freemen of Llantrisant with authors such as Dick King-Smith indicating that he could barely pull back the string of his bow properly, but even these suggest that Robin Hood had an almost obsessional interest in archery, even up to the day he died. Even with the depiction of such traits, there is little written in the literature about Robin Hood’s personality, though it is quite apparent from many of the stories about him that he exhibits many autistic traits and qualities. Robin Hood is often depicted as the leader of a band of robbers, more commonly known as the Merry Men, but what sort of leader could he have been if he exhibited certain autistic ailments?

If Robin Hood has an autistic spectrum disorder such as Asperger Syndrome, it is likely that he would also have a monotone voice as this is characteristic of people with the syndrome, which would mean that he would not be able to convey emotion as effectively as he perhaps should do.  According to the Disability Rights Commissions Guidance for disabled leaders, 38% of a first impression consists of a person’s vocal qualities such as tone of voice and their rate and pitch. According to Johnson (1999) disabilities, such as autism and other developmental disabilities, are seen as antithetical to leadership, and often this perception is a barrier to people with such disabilities becoming leaders. Johnson argues that as people with disabilities emerge as educated, competent, and well-trained professionals who address issues specific to the constituency of which they are a recognised member, their leadership must be embraced. This seems to suggest that people with autism becoming leaders is something that will happen in the future, and not something that has happened in the past or is happening in the present. There are many leadership qualities possessed by people with autism and other developmental disabilities, some of which have been exhibited by historical figures, and some by mythic figures such as Robin Hood.

In attempting to understand leaders and people with autism, particularly Asperger Syndrome, some authors have found it helpful to identify the personality traits of these individuals. Stogdill (1948) identified several characteristics of emergent leadership, those being dominance, extroversion, sociability, ambition, responsibility, integrity, self-confidence, mood, emotional control, diplomacy and cooperativeness. Helton (1997) also identified a number of factors that suggest someone is a leader, including that they have vision, an ability to handle change, self-awareness, a clear set of values, openness and trustworthiness.

Friedman & Lambert (2000) concurred some of these attributes by suggesting that leaders possess vision, charisma, confidence, courage, humility, honesty, concern for others, and a strong sense of justice.

Some of these traits of leaders are consistent with the traits found in individuals with Asperger Syndrome and others are not. Individuals on the autistic spectrum are known to be dominant in their interactions with their peers according to Wolfberg ( 2003) as they like to be in control and often attempt to command over others.

According the National Autistic Society some people with Asperger Syndrome are known to have a strong sense of justice. However the NAS also indicate that people with Asperger Syndrome do not cope well with change, and some people with the syndrome find it very difficult to adapt to changes in the workplace (Bishop, 2003), something which Helton (1997) suggests leaders have the ability to do. Nelles (2005) identifies three specific attributes of people with Asperger Syndrome, which are that they have courage, strength and character. These are perhaps similar to the courage, self-confidence and charisma that are characteristic of leadership. Another trait of people with Asperger Syndrome, according to the DSM-IV criteria used to diagnose people with the condition  is that they have impairment in social interaction, which conflicts with Stogdill’s (1948) claim that a characteristic of leadership is sociability. In addition to this impairment, DSM-IV also states that to diagnose someone with Asperger Syndrome they need to have “restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behaviour, interests and activities” which is perhaps what makes some autistic people exhibit dominating behaviour, a quality of leadership, and perhaps makes them perfectly positioned to develop a vision that restricts others to their will as a leader would, as suggested by Helton (1997).

 

Robin Hood has been represented in many different ways in many different mediums. Up until the nineteenth-century members of the establishment portrayed Robin Hood as a villain. In a petition to Parliament in 1439 Piers Venables of Aston in Derbyshire was disparagingly compared to Robin Hood and famously Robert Cecil, the 1st Earl of Salisbury, described Guy Fawkes and his associate terrorists as “Robin Hoods”.  It is only in recent times that Robin Hood’s insurgent behaviours have been compared to someone that is a campaigner for social justice as opposed to a terrorist fighting for a political cause. In the True Tale of Robin Hood, it is said, “The widow and the fatherless he would send means unto, and those whom famine did oppress found him a friendly foe” and “Nor would he do a woman wrong, but see her safe convey’d : He would protect with power strong all those who crav’d his aid”. This suggests that Robin Hood has the leadership quality of having concern for others as well as having a strong sense of justice, something that is characteristic of both autistic people and leaders. Robin Hood is often portrayed as having no respect for unqualified authority, an autistic trait according to Frith (1991) and Arias (2006), suggesting he has a clear value system, which is a leadership quality according to Helton (1997).

A clear indication of Robin Hood having some autistic characteristics is that he is easily deceived, which according to Baron-Cohen (1992) and Sodian  & Frith (1992) is a common ailment of people with autistic spectrum disorders. In the ballad, Robin Hood’s Progress to Nottingham as well as many retellings of the legend, Robin Hood is easily deceived by some foresters into killing one of the King’s deer and in the ballad, Robin Hood and Maid Marian, Robin Hood is also easily deceived, but this time by Maid Marian, whom he does not realise the identity of until after having a tussle with her.

Picking up the Ladybird series of Robin Hood books, such as The Ambush by Kester & Kenny (1955) and The Silver Arrow also by Kester & Kenny (1940) as well as many other series of Robin Hood books, Robin Hood is usually seen wearing the same clothes. According to Lewis (2002) this is characteristic of leadership, as groups are able to identify with a uniform as a symbolic form of communication and according to Pyles (2002) wearing the same clothes all the time as if they were a uniform is also characteristic of people with Asperger Syndrome. What perhaps suggests that Robin Hood was wearing the same clothes more for autistic reasons than as a leadership decision was in The Silver Arrow (Kenny & Kester, 1940), Robin Hood wore the same clothes to the archery contest as he wore when he was with his Merry Men, suggesting he had difficulties with changing his outfit as an autistic person would.

One autistic trait that Robin Hood has that perhaps conflicts with traits of a leader is the way he seeks out conflict and speaks in a confrontational manner, as Boyd (2004) suggests a person with Asperger Syndrome would, as opposed to being diplomatic as Stogdill (1948) suggests leaders should be. For example, in the ballads Robin Hood and the Curtail Friar and Robin Hood and Little John, Robin Hood makes a possibly straightforward situation for someone with diplomatic abilities as confrontational as an autistic person would. Both these stories also demonstrate how Robin Hood is courageous, which is according to Friedman & Lambert (2000) a leadership quality and according to Nelles (2005) is a quality that people with Asperger Syndrome have. Indeed, McSpadden & Wilson (1921) clearly state that Robin Hood is courageous, and in the ballad, Robin Hood’s Progress to Nottingham, Robin Hood is said to be “a proper young man, of courage stout and bold”. Other stories about Robin Hood indicate that he is slow to anger suggesting he has emotional control, which is a leadership quality according to Stogdill (1948), and something which is apparent in many adults with autistic spectrum disorders such as Asperger Syndrome.

Applying the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria to Robin Hood as well as recorded traits of people with Asperger Syndrome also suggests that he is on the autistic spectrum. Robin Hood clearly has “restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behaviour, interests and activities” as manifested in his intense interest in archery, which is alluded to in the ballad Robin Hood’s Birth, Breeding, Valour, and Marriage and suggested in the many adaptations and retellings of the legend as well as having only one close friend, that being Little John. The criteria of “qualitative impairments in social interaction and communication” can be insinuated from the theatre productions of Robin Hood as according to Knight (2003) Robin Hood has so few lines in such productions as is confirmed in the play Robin Hood and Babes in the Wood, which was recently performed in Pontypridd, where Robin Hood appears quiet in the classroom and only becomes animated when he disputes something.  If Robin Hood is a leader, this may be one of his weaknesses, although perhaps if he were to be as focussed on his vision as autistic people are focussed on their plans, then he may compensate this social impairment in his leadership by being dominant in his interactions with others through trying to force his strong sense of justice onto them as someone with strong leadership skills would do, as suggested by Stogdill (1948).

The possibility that Robin Hood does not convey emotion in his voice, as depicted in Tim Brooke-Hunt’s production leads to the question of whether Robin Hood could be an ardent leader as he is often imagined if he has a monotone voice, or whether he would simply be a detached brigand.

To investigate this I carried out a study. A total of 398 people from the Robin Hood community were asked to take part in the study and 23 responses were received. Although there was no gathering of data relating to age or gender, it was evident from the participants’ profile pages that they were from diverse backgrounds, making them representative of society. Audio recordings were made of the script from the popular Robin Hood adaptation, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves where Robin Hood made a speech in which he tried to unite the Merry Men behind his vision of a just society as a leader would. The recordings were made of the actual scene from the movie in which Robin Hood played by Kevin Costner made the speech, a person who had been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome making the same speech in their naturally monotone voice, and a control, which was an actor making that speech who had not previously played the part of Robin Hood, nor been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. A website was constructed to hold these audio recordings to make them available to participants and the results collected in a database. Participants were asked to listen to the audio files one after the other and then rate the speaker using a 6-point Likert-type scale on specific attributes characteristic of leaders based on the studies by Stogdill (1948), Helton (1997) and Friedman & Lambert (2000).

The study proves conclusively that people will judge another person’s leadership qualities based on their voice and that in most cases a professional actor, in this case Kevin Costner, will convey in their voice stronger leadership qualities than an amateur actor or an autistic actor. The autistic actor was seen as less dominant than the professional actor or amateur actor, which contrary to the widely known fact that autistic people are dominant in their interactions with others. The autistic actor’s voice did not convey their strong sense of justice as the professional actor or the amateur actor, nor did their courageous traits come through. The autistic actor came out showing stronger emotional control than the professional actor. As discussed adults with an autistic spectrum disorder such as Asperger Syndrome often exhibit greater emotional control, and the results suggest this is perceived in their monotone voice.

The results of the study suggest that if Robin Hood does have a monotone voice and is autistic then he will have to rely on his dominating behaviour to portray the leadership quality of dominance to the Merry Men, rely on taking part in bold activities to demonstrate his courageousness, and rely on policies such as robbing the rich to feed the poor to convince people of his leadership qualities of having a strong sense of justice and being concerned about others. Robin Hood is perhaps better known for convincing people of his leadership qualities through demonstrating his personality through his actions than his voice, as he is known to demonstrate the leadership qualities of concern for others, courage and responsibility by taking the blame for the actions of others.

A day in the life of an autistic person

On Monday my friend Mark asked me if I could help my other friend Gemma on Tuesday move her goldfish and other belongings from her old flat to her knew one.

Mark knows that I like to know in advance before doing something and that I often make plans to do something. Having Aspergers, as June Welton says in her book “Can I Tell You About Asperger Syndrome” means that people like me “can get very upset
when unexpected things happen, or when there’s a change of plan that I haven’t been warned about.

When I went down there on Tuesday, I was waiting for Gemma to pack her things and get the goldfish ready, when something unexpected did happen. Her landlord Richard Davies barged into the property and demanded that I leave. Richard Davies not only said it in a confrontational manner, but when I said I would not leave as I said I was helping Gemma move out he demanded to know my name, and then ordered one of Gemma’s house mates to call the police.

When Gemma said I should leave and I did, Richard Davies started to follow me and began taking pictures of me.

I then asked Richard Davies why he was taking pictures of me and he started harassing me, telling me he did not want me on his property again and then Richard Davies proceeded to tell me that he wanted me to go back to the flat to speak to the police, who were on their way.

This sort of harassment from Richard Davies is not something autistic people like myself, or anyone else should have to put up with. He interfered with my clear plan to help Gemma move her goldfish and belongings, and then proceeded to hound me when I did what Gemma wanted me to do and leave.

What sort of world do we live in when people cannot help their friends out without being harassed by people who behave in a
wildly reckless manner like Gemma’s former landlord Richard Davies.

Glamorgan graduate nominated for award

A University of Glamorgan graduate has been nominated for an award for using mobile phones to teach people with autism and social phobia. Jonathan Bishop, of Heol-y-Parc, Efail Isaf, has been nominated for the New Statesman Bright Sparks award in the special educational needs category. The award will go to the product or project that best removes the barriers to achievement faced by people with special educational needs.

Mr Bishop’s entry uses mobile phones to teach the meaning of emotions and common phrases individuals with autism and social phobia while they are participating in social situations.

Dr Mike Reddy, of the University of Glamorgan, who supervised the project said that the system, named PARLE, could be effective at helping people with autism take part in social situations. He said: “What is deeply significant about this work is that it would serve to be inclusive, rather than attaching social stigma to participation in a social situation because of the innovative use of mobile phones.”

Research on the system carried out at the University of Glamorgan has already been published in an international journal, but as Mr Bishop explains, more is necessary to determine the system’s usefulness. “We were only able to test a small part of the system two years ago, but new research methodologies mean we can now get a complete picture of how people benefit from the system.” Mr Bishop is looking for volunteers to take part in the new study. If you have a form of autism such as Asperger Syndrome, any type of social phobia or are someone interested in learning more about emotions you can get in touch via Mr Bishop’s web site at http://www.jonathanbishop.org.uk/parle.

The Internet for educating indviduals with social impairments

The Internet for educating individuals with social impairments

Jonathan Bishop

Abstract

Social impairments materialise in a number of forms, from developmental disabilities such as autistic spectrum disorder, to psychiatric conditions such as social phobia. The individuals diagnosed with these problems find it difficult to deal with social situations through either the inability to perform in these situations or the fear of not being able to do so. The study investigated the social and practical implications of using Mobile Internet technology to deliver information relating to a social situation in real-time to participants with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (n = 10) and General Social Phobia (n = 3) diagnosed using DSM-IV. The participants used the agent on their mobile phone to convert phrases they found offensive or confusing into more concise and understandable definitions. Analysing their attitudes found that the technology enables socially impaired individuals to learn the meaning of emotions and understand more about how they communicate with their peers. However, the study concludes that governmental organisations, education providers and society as a whole need to adopt a cohesive approach to communication to ensure socially impaired individuals are fully included in society

Full Text

The Internet for educating individuals with social impairments

Reference

J. Bishop (2003). The Internet for educating individuals with social impairments. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning 19(4), pp. 546-556. Available online at: http://www.jonathanbishop.com/Library/Documents/EN/docCS4S06Paper.pdf