Tool taps personal interests to understand self-control

A new version of a well-known test assesses how personal interests influence self-control in typical adults. The tool may eventually help scientists better understand the impulsivity and intense interests in people with autism that can interfere with their daily functioning.

Scientists can measure self-control with a ‘go/no-go’ task. In that test, an individual looks at a series of images and is supposed to do something when he sees one type of image — say, a face with a blank expression — and withhold the action when he sees another type, such as a happy face.

But faces and neutral stimuli might not test the difficulties people with autism have with self-control. Problems may arise, for example, when they must avoid engaging in an activity of particular interest to them.

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15th December 2017