Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Art (BA)




Zsuzsa Kaldy


Rajini Srikanth

Subject Categories

Child Psychology | Cognition and Perception | Developmental Psychology | Psychology


Visual Search is an attention task that measures how efficiently a person is able to find a target among distractors. It has been found before that children diagnosed with ASD can perform better at visual search when compared to age-matched typically developing children (Kaldy et al., 2011, 2013). Our team conducted a follow-up study with slightly different stimulus parameters (Smith et al., 2015) and two different potential target objects (in this task, an apple vs. a carrot). The results showed that the identity of the target object influenced toddlers’ search performance: they were slightly faster at finding the target when it was the apple than the carrot. This study aims to further explore why this phenomenon occurred. We hypothesized that it may be related to either familiarity (apples may be more familiar to toddlers than carrots) or prior knowledge of language measured by a standard cognitive assessment tool (Mullen Scales of Early Learning). We found that toddlers there was a significant difference in performance dependent on the condition, regardless of diagnosis. This results replicated the study done by Smith et al,. (2015). However, when looking to see the relationship between The Mullen Scales of Early Learning scores and overall performance in the visual search tasks no significant relationship was found.