Date of Award

12-17-2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Diana L. Robins

Second Advisor

Tricia Z. King

Third Advisor

Jessica A. Turner

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships among mentalizing abilities, self-reported autism traits, and two white matter tracts, uncinate fasciculus (UF) and inferior longitudinal fasciculus (ILF), in neurotypical adults. UF and ILF were hypothesized to connect brain regions implicated in a neuroanatomical model of mentalizing. Data were available for 24 neurotypical adults (mean age = 21.92 (4.72) years; 15 women). Tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) was used to conduct voxelwise cross-participant comparisons of fractional anisotropy (FA) values in UF and ILF as predicted by mentalizing abilities and self-reported autism traits. Self-reported autism traits were positively related to FA values in left ILF. Results suggest that microstructural differences in left ILF are specifically involved in the expression of subclinical autism traits in neurotypical individuals.

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