Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 46, Issue 4, pp 1220–1235 | Cite as

A Meta-analysis of the Wisconsin Card Sort Task in Autism

  • Oriane LandryEmail author
  • Shems Al-Taie
Original Paper


We conducted a meta-analysis of 31 studies, spanning 30 years, utilizing the WCST in participants with autism. We calculated Cohen’s d effect sizes for four measures of performance: sets completed, perseveration, failure-to-maintain-set, and non-perseverative errors. The average weighted effect size ranged from 0.30 to 0.74 for each measure, all statistically greater than 0. No evidence was found for reduced impairment when WCST is administered by computer. Age and PIQ predicted perseverative error rates, while VIQ predicted non-perseverative error rates, and both perseverative and non-perseverative error rates in turn predicted number of sets completed. No correlates of failure-to-maintain set errors were found; further research is warranted on this aspect of WCST performance in autism.


Executive function Wisconsin Card Sort Task Meta-analysis Cognitive flexibility 



The authors would like to thank Sura Muscati, Christopher Degagne, Philippe Chouinard, Jake Burack, and Natalie Russo for comments on the manuscript, and all the researchers who facilitated this meta-analysis by tracking down colleagues and sharing raw data.

Author Contributions

OL conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination, performed measurement and statistical analysis, interpretation of the data, and drafted the manuscript; SA participated in the design and coordination of the study, performed measurement and statistical analysis, and helped to draft the manuscript. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10803_2015_2659_MOESM1_ESM.doc (62 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 62 kb)


(Articles included in the meta-analysis are denoted with *)

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Psychological ScienceLa Trobe UniversityBendigoAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Psychology, Neuroscience, and BehaviorMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada

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