Susceptibility to Optical Illusions Varies as a Function of the Autism-Spectrum Quotient but not in Ways Predicted by Local–Global Biases
- 2k Downloads
Individuals with autism spectrum disorder and those with autistic tendencies in non-clinical groups are thought to have a perceptual style privileging local details over global integration. We used 13 illusions to investigate this perceptual style in typically developing adults with various levels of autistic traits. Illusory susceptibility was entered into a principal-component analysis. Only one factor, consisting of the Shepard’s tabletops and Square-diamond illusions, was found to have reduced susceptibility as a function of autistic traits. Given that only two illusions were affected and that these illusions depend mostly on the processing of within-object relational properties, we conclude there is something distinct about autistic-like perceptual functioning but not in ways predicted by a preference of local over global elements.
KeywordsVisual illusions Shepard’s tabletops illusion Visual perception Illusory susceptibility Autism-spectrum quotient (AQ)
This work was supported by grants from the Ontario Mental Health Foundation and La Trobe University’s Understanding Disease Research Focus Area awarded to the first author. The authors would also like to thank Ms. Joanne Pearce, Mr. Amin Rabie, and Ms. Georgina Amos in assisting us with data collection.
All authors contributed to the data collection, statistical analyses, and the preparation of the manuscript. PAC, OL, and IS conceived and designed the experiments. PAC programmed the experiments.
- Baron-Cohen, S. (2003). The essential difference: Men, women, and the extreme male brain. London: Penquin.Google Scholar
- Baron-Cohen, S., Richler, J., Bisarya, D., Gurunathan, N., & Wheelwright, S. (2003). The systemizing quotient: An investigation of adults with Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism, and normal sex differences. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 358(1430), 361–374.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Baron-Cohen, S., Wheelwright, S., Skinner, R., Martin, J., & Clubley, E. (2001). The autism-spectrum quotient (AQ): evidence from Asperger syndrome/high-functioning autism, males and females, scientists and mathematicians. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 31(1), 5–17.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Frith, U. (2003). Autism: Explaining the enigma (2nd ed.). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
- Groen, Y., Fuermaier, A. B., Den Heijer, A. E., Tucha, O., & Althaus, M. (2015). The empathy and systemizing quotient: The psycho-metric properties of the Dutch version and a review of the cross-cultural stability. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 45(9), 2848–2864.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Kanner, L. (1943). Autistic disturbances of affective contact. The Nervous Child, 2, 217–250.Google Scholar
- Mottron, L., & Burack, J. A. (2001). Enhanced perceptual functioning in the development of autism. In J. A. Burack, T. Charman, N. Yirmiya, & P. R. Zelazo (Eds.), The development of autism: Perspectives from theory and research (pp. 131–148). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Ruser, T. F., Arin, D., Dowd, M., Putnam, S., Winklosky, B., Rosen-Sheidley, B., et al. (2007). Communicative competence in parents of children with autism and parents of children with specific language impairment. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37(7), 1323–1336.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- von Helmholtz, H. (1867). Leipzig. Berlin, Germany: Voss.Google Scholar