Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 42, Issue 11, pp 2420–2430 | Cite as

Support for a Link Between the Local Processing Bias and Social Deficits in Autism: An Investigation of Embedded Figures Test Performance in Non-Clinical Individuals

  • Suzanna N. Russell-SmithEmail author
  • Murray T. Maybery
  • Donna M. Bayliss
  • Adelln A. H. Sng
Original paper


The aim of this investigation was to explore the degree to which specific subsets of autistic-like traits relate to performance on the Embedded Figures Test (Witkin et al. in A manual for the embedded figures test. Consulting Psychologists Press, Palo Alto, CA, 1971). In the first group-based investigation with this focus, students were selected for their extreme scores (either high or low) on each of the ‘Social Skills’ and ‘Details/Patterns’ factors of the Autism Spectrum Quotient (Baron-Cohen et al. in J Austim Dev Disord 31:5–17, 2001). The resulting 2 × 2 factorial design permitted examination of the degree to which the social and non-social autistic-like traits separately relate to EFT performance. Surprisingly, in two studies, superior EFT performance was found to relate only to greater social difficulty, suggesting that the local processing bias in autism may be linked specifically to the social deficits.


Autism Local–global processing Embedded figures Social deficits Attention-to-detail 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Suzanna N. Russell-Smith
    • 1
    Email author
  • Murray T. Maybery
    • 1
  • Donna M. Bayliss
    • 1
  • Adelln A. H. Sng
    • 1
  1. 1.Neurocognitive Development Unit, School of PsychologyUniversity of Western AustraliaCrawley, PerthAustralia

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