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portrait of Dr Sebastian Gaigg

Dr Sebastian Gaigg

Senior Lecturer in Psychology

School of Arts and Social Sciences, Department of Psychology

Contact Information

Contact

Visit Sebastian Gaigg

DG10, Rhind Building

Postal Address

City, University of London
Northampton Square
London
EC1V 0HB
United Kingdom

About

Overview

Dr Gaigg joined the Autism Research Group at City, University of London in 2001 and has since then pursued two primary research interests. One strand of his work focuses on understanding learning and memory processes across the autism spectrum, with projects ranging from the examination of episodic memory in autistic adults who live relatively independent lives, to studies of basic learning processes in young autistic children who have very significant language and intellectual impairments. His second strand of work seeks to develop a better understanding of the emotional lives of individuals with autism, particularly concerning the mechanisms underlying the unusually high prevalence of anxiety disorders in this population, and the implications for the development of effective treatments.

Administrative roles

  1. Member of the Department's Research Committee
  2. Member of the Department's Management Group
  3. Deputy Director of the BSc Psychology Programme

Research

Research Interests

My research is broadly concerned with understanding the causes and consequences of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) - a neurodevelopmental disorder that is defined by social-communication impairments, sensory processing anomalies and stereotyped patterns of thought and behaviour. The causes of ASD remain unknown but research over the past 50 years has firmly established that the disorder is characterised by a complex pattern of strengths and difficulties across multiple domains of cognition, including, attention and perception, decision making, the processing of time, social cognition, learning and memory and emotion related processes. I am interested in discovering how this complex cognitive phenotype comes about during the development of ASD. In particular, I am trying to establish what role differences in the development of basic learning and emotion related processes play in the emergence of the core clinical features of the disorder early in life.

Publications

Chapters (2)

  1. Bowler, D.M., Gaigg, S.B. and Lind, S.E. (2011). Memory in autism: binding, self and brain. In Roth, I. and Rezaie, P. (Eds.), Researching the Autism Spectrum: Contemporary Perspectives (pp. 316–346). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-73686-2.
  2. Bowler, D.M. and Gaigg, S.B. (2008). Memory in ASD: Emerging themes and future prospects. In Boucher, J. and Bowler, D.M. (Eds.), Memory in Autism: Theory and Evidence (pp. 330–349). Cambridge University Press.

Conference papers and proceedings (3)

  1. Lambrechts, A., Yarrow, K., Maras, K. and Gaigg, S. (2014). Impact of the temporal dynamics of speech and gesture on communication in Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  2. Jones, C.R.G., Gaigg, S.B. and Lambrechts, A. (2014). Using time perception to explore sensitivity to emotional stimuli in autism spectrum disorder.
  3. Lambrechts, A., Gaigg, S., Yarrow, K., Maras, K. and Fusaroli, R. (2014). Temporal dynamics of speech and gesture in Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Journal articles (41)

  1. Nicholson, T.M., Williams, D.M., Grainger, C., Christensen, J.F., Calvo-Merino, B. and Gaigg, S.B. (2018). Interoceptive impairments do not lie at the heart of autism or alexithymia. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 127(6), pp. 612–622. doi:10.1037/abn0000370.
  2. Constable, P.A., Ring, M., Gaigg, S.B. and Bowler, D.M. (2018). Problem-solving styles in autism spectrum disorder and the development of higher cognitive functions. Autism, 22(5), pp. 597–608. doi:10.1177/1362361317691044.
  3. Ring, M., Gaigg, S.B., Altgassen, M., Barr, P. and Bowler, D.M. (2018). Allocentric Versus Egocentric Spatial Memory in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 48(6), pp. 2101–2111. doi:10.1007/s10803-018-3465-5.
  4. Ring, M., Gaigg, S.B., de Condappa, O., Wiener, J.M. and Bowler, D.M. (2018). Spatial navigation from same and different directions: The role of executive functions, memory and attention in adults with autism spectrum disorder. Autism Research, 11(5), pp. 798–810. doi:10.1002/aur.1924.
  5. Christensen, J.F., Gaigg, S.B. and Calvo-Merino, B. (2018). I can feel my heartbeat: Dancers have increased interoceptive accuracy. Psychophysiology, 55(4). doi:10.1111/psyp.13008.
  6. Stotesbury, H., Gaigg, S.B., Kirhan, S. and Haenschel, C. (2018). The influence of schizotypal traits on attention under high perceptual load. Schizophrenia Research: Cognition, 11, pp. 6–10. doi:10.1016/j.scog.2017.10.002.
  7. Gaigg, S.B., Cornell, A.S.F. and Bird, G. (2018). The psychophysiological mechanisms of alexithymia in autism spectrum disorder. Autism, 22(2), pp. 227–231. doi:10.1177/1362361316667062.
  8. Semino, S., Ring, M., Bowler, D.M. and Gaigg, S.B. (2018). The Influence of task Demands, Verbal Ability and Executive Functions on Item and Source Memory in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 48(1), pp. 184–197. doi:10.1007/s10803-017-3299-6.
  9. Ring, M., Bowler, D.M. and Gaigg, S.B. (2017). An eye-movement study of relational memory in adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 47(10), pp. 2981–2991. doi:10.1007/s10803-017-3212-3.
  10. Ring, M., Derwent, C.L.T., Gaigg, S.B. and Bowler, D.M. (2017). Structural learning difficulties implicate altered hippocampal functioning in adults with autism spectrum disorder. J Abnorm Psychol, 126(6), pp. 793–804. doi:10.1037/abn0000277.
  11. Jones, C.R.G., Lambrechts, A. and Gaigg, S.B. (2017). Using Time Perception to Explore Implicit Sensitivity to Emotional Stimuli in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 47(7), pp. 2054–2066. doi:10.1007/s10803-017-3120-6.
  12. Fusaroli, R., Lambrechts, A., Bang, D., Bowler, D.M. and Gaigg, S.B. (2017). “Is voice a marker for Autism spectrum disorder? A systematic review and meta-analysis”. Autism Research, 10(3), pp. 384–407. doi:10.1002/aur.1678.
  13. Bowler, D.M., Poirier, M., Martin, J.S. and Gaigg, S.B. (2016). Nonverbal short-term serial order memory in autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 125(7), pp. 886–893. doi:10.1037/abn0000203.
  14. Christensen, J.F., Gomila, A., Gaigg, S.B., Sivarajah, N. and Calvo-Merino, B. (2016). Dance expertise modulates behavioral and psychophysiological responses to affective body movement. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 42(8), pp. 1139–1147. doi:10.1037/xhp0000176.
  15. Maisel, M.E., Stephenson, K.G., South, M., Rodgers, J., Freeston, M.H. and Gaigg, S.B. (2016). Modeling the cognitive mechanisms Linking autism symptoms and Anxiety in adults. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 125(5), pp. 692–703. doi:10.1037/abn0000168.
  16. Ipser, A., Ring, M., Murphy, J., Gaigg, S.B. and Cook, R. (2016). Similar exemplar pooling processes underlie the learning of facial identity and handwriting style: Evidence from typical observers and individuals with Autism. Neuropsychologia, 85, pp. 169–176. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2016.03.017.
  17. Constable, P.A., Gaigg, S.B., Bowler, D.M., Jägle, H. and Thompson, D.A. (2016). Full-field electroretinogram in autism spectrum disorder. Documenta Ophthalmologica, 132(2), pp. 83–99. doi:10.1007/s10633-016-9529-y.
  18. Ring, M., Gaigg, S.B. and Bowler, D.M. (2016). Relational Memory Processes in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism Research, 9(1), pp. 97–106. doi:10.1002/aur.1493.
  19. Ring, M., Gaigg, S.B. and Bowler, D.M. (2015). Object-location memory in adults with autism spectrum disorder. Autism Research, 8(5), pp. 609–619. doi:10.1002/aur.1478.
  20. Bowler, D.M., Gaigg, S.B. and Gardiner, J.M. (2015). Brief Report: The Role of Task Support in the Spatial and Temporal Source Memory of Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 45(8), pp. 2613–2617. doi:10.1007/s10803-015-2378-9.
  21. Shah, P., Gaule, A., Gaigg, S.B., Bird, G. and Cook, R. (2015). Probing short-term face memory in developmental prosopagnosia. Cortex, 64, pp. 115–122. doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2014.10.006.
  22. Gaigg, S.B., Bowler, D.M., Ecker, C., Calvo-Merino, B. and Murphy, D.G. (2015). Episodic Recollection Difficulties in ASD Result from Atypical Relational Encoding: Behavioral and Neural Evidence. Autism Research, 8(3), pp. 317–327. doi:10.1002/aur.1448.
  23. Murphy, J., Ipser, A., Gaigg, S.B. and Cook, R. (2015). Exemplar variance supports robust learning of facial identity. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 41(3), pp. 577–581. doi:10.1037/xhp0000049.
  24. Christensen, J.F., Gaigg, S.B., Gomila, A., Oke, P. and Calvo-Merino, B. (2014). Enhancing emotional experiences to dance through music: The role of valence and arousal in the cross-modal bias. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8(OCT). doi:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00757.
  25. Gaigg, S.B., Bowler, D.M. and Gardiner, J.M. (2014). Episodic but not semantic order memory difficulties in autism spectrum disorder: evidence from the Historical Figures Task. Memory, 22(6), pp. 669–678. doi:10.1080/09658211.2013.811256.
  26. Bowler, D.M., Gaigg, S.B. and Gardiner, J.M. (2014). Binding of multiple features in memory by high-functioning adults with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44(9), pp. 2355–2362. doi:10.1007/s10803-014-2105-y.
  27. Maras, K.L., Gaigg, S.B. and Bowler, D.M. (2012). Memory for emotionally arousing events over time in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Emotion, 12(5), pp. 1118–1128. doi:10.1037/a0026679.
  28. Constable, P., Gaigg, S.B., Bowler, D.M. and Thompson, D.A. (2012). Motion and pattern cortical potentials in adults with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder. Documenta Ophthalmologica, 125(3), pp. 219–227. doi:10.1007/s10633-012-9349-7.
  29. Gaigg, S.B. (2012). The Interplay between Emotion and Cognition in Autism Spectrum Disorder: Implications for Developmental Theory. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, 6. doi:10.3389/fnint.2012.00113.
  30. Poirier, M., Martin, J.S., Gaigg, S.B. and Bowler, D.M. (2011). Short-term memory in autism spectrum disorder. J Abnorm Psychol, 120(1), pp. 247–252. doi:10.1037/a0022298.
  31. Bowler, D.M., Gaigg, S.B. and Gardiner, J.M. (2010). Multiple list learning in adults with autism spectrum disorder: parallels with frontal lobe damage or further evidence of diminished relational processing? J Autism Dev Disord, 40(2), pp. 179–187. doi:10.1007/s10803-009-0845-x.
  32. Constable, P.A., Solomon, J.A., Gaigg, S.B. and Bowler, D.M. (2010). Crowding and visual search in high functioning adults with autism spectrum disorder. Clinical Optometry, 2, pp. 1–11. doi:10.2147/OPTO.S11476.
  33. Gaigg, S.B. and Bowler, D.M. (2009). Brief report: Attenuated emotional suppression of the attentional blink in Autism Spectrum Disorder: another non-social abnormality? J Autism Dev Disord, 39(8), pp. 1211–1217. doi:10.1007/s10803-009-0719-2.
  34. Gaigg, S.B. and Bowler, D.M. (2009). Illusory memories of emotionally charged words in autism spectrum disorder: further evidence for atypical emotion processing outside the social domain. J Autism Dev Disord, 39(7), pp. 1031–1038. doi:10.1007/s10803-009-0710-y.
  35. Bowler, D.M., Gaigg, S.B. and Gardiner, J.M. (2009). Free recall learning of hierarchically organised lists by adults with Asperger's syndrome: additional evidence for diminished relational processing. J Autism Dev Disord, 39(4), pp. 589–595. doi:10.1007/s10803-008-0659-2.
  36. Gaigg, S.B. and Bowler, D.M. (2008). Free recall and forgetting of emotionally arousing words in autism spectrum disorder. Neuropsychologia, 46(9), pp. 2336–2343. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2008.03.008.
  37. Gaigg, S.B., Gardiner, J.M. and Bowler, D.M. (2008). Free recall in autism spectrum disorder: the role of relational and item-specific encoding. Neuropsychologia, 46(4), pp. 983–992. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2007.11.011.
  38. Bowler, D.M., Gaigg, S.B. and Gardiner, J.M. (2008). Effects of related and unrelated context on recall and recognition by adults with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder. Neuropsychologia, 46(4), pp. 993–999. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2007.12.004.
  39. Bowler, D.M., Gaigg, S.B. and Gardiner, J.M. (2008). Subjective organisation in the free recall learning of adults with Asperger's syndrome. J Autism Dev Disord, 38(1), pp. 104–113. doi:10.1007/s10803-007-0366-4.
  40. Gaigg, S.B. and Bowler, D.M. (2007). Differential fear conditioning in Asperger's syndrome: implications for an amygdala theory of autism. Neuropsychologia, 45(9), pp. 2125–2134. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2007.01.012.
  41. Bowler, D.M., Gardiner, J.M. and Gaigg, S.B. (2007). Factors affecting conscious awareness in the recollective experience of adults with Asperger's syndrome. Conscious Cogn, 16(1), pp. 124–143. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2005.12.001.

Education

Teaching

PS3025 - Programming Tools for Psychologists:
On this 3rd year option module, which I jointly convene with Dr. Yarrow and Dr. Reimers, students learn how to use Qualtrics, E-prime and Matlab to implement psychological experiments and analyse data. I teach the E-prime component of the module.

PS1004 - History and Theory of Psychology
I am the module leader for this module.

MSc in Clinical, Social and Cognitive Neurosceince:
I contribute a number of lectures to this course on psychophysiological recording techniques and social cognition

Honours Research Project:
My students usually investigate the relationship between autistic traits and aspects of mental health such as anxiety and depression, in the general population.

PhD students

Current:
Alida Acosta
Anna Lambrechts
Fernanda Monteiro
Martina Fanghella

Completed:
Sophie Anns
Lama Saadi Taher Abdulla
Melanie Ring

Other Activities

Editorial activity

  1. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, Editor in Chief.