Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis


Communication Sciences and Disorders

Thesis Type

Honors College

First Advisor

Dr. Emily Coderre

Second Advisor

Dr. Susan Kasser

Third Advisor

Julia Walberg


ASD, semantic processing, narrative comprehension, visual narratives, visual narrative grammar, N400


Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) often struggle with narrative comprehension, possibly because of related impairments in semantic and syntactic processing. However, most studies have used linguistic narratives, making it difficult to isolate those processes because of potential interference from other language deficits. Therefore, visual narratives are an ideal modality for exploring narrative comprehension and the underlying roles of semantic and structural processing in ASD.

Previous work has shown impaired semantic processing for both linguistic and visual narratives in ASD (Coderre et al., 2018), but it remains to be seen whether impairments in structural sequencing abilities might also contribute to difficulties in narrative comprehension. To explore this, we replicated a previous study of sequential image comprehension (Cohn et al., 2012) in a population of adults with ASD and a control group of typically-developing (TD) adults. Stimuli were adapted from Peanutscomic strips and consisted of Normal sequences (containing both meaning between panels and narrative structure); Semantic-Only sequences (containing meaning but no structure); Structural-Only sequences (containing a narrative structure but no semantic relatedness); and Scrambled sequences (randomly-ordered panels with neither semantic relatedness nor narrative structure). We evaluated narrative processing by comparing the effect of sequence type on the N400 component of the event-related potential (ERP), and structural processing through the left anterior negativity (LAN) effect.

Preliminary data analysis showed similar N400 patterns between ASD and TD groups, suggesting visuo-semantic processing may be intact for individuals with ASD. This study also explored the possible presence of a LAN and the effect of panel position on N400 amplitude.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.