Improving cognitive flexibility through bilingual rule switching tasks

This project addressed the Health and Social Care theme of the CHERISH-DE Centre, being focused on enabling individuals with autistic spectrum disorders. The purpose of this project is to provide a strategy to help reduce over-selectivity in autistic individuals through teaching them elements of different languages and training them to adapt their attention skills to be more flexible. This research will be focus on demonstrating that people with ASD can improve their attentional skills through changing between languages. Different materials will be used throughout the project and the areas of bilingualism and psychology will work together during the language training in order to test their language and social abilities as well as their attention skills. The attention measuring software called e-prime will be used. The team of this project will come from the Department of English Language and Literature and the Department of Interprofessional Health Studies, furthermore, if the pilot is successful the project will include colleagues from Computer Science to develop an immersive experience through a virtual reality software, thus enhancing the multidisciplinary research. If this first proof of concept is successful, a larger scale study will be extended, using techniques to make an independent website as well as to develop a virtual reality platform. The outcomes of this project are: to introduce more flexibility in autistic individual’s attention; to reduce over-selectivity enabling better social and language skills; to develop interventions that allow ASD individuals to function better in society, enhancing the digital economy at the same time. The total work plan will take over six months and the total project cost will be £4946.25