Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 46, Issue 6, pp 2224–2239 | Cite as

Susceptibility to Optical Illusions Varies as a Function of the Autism-Spectrum Quotient but not in Ways Predicted by Local–Global Biases

  • Philippe A. Chouinard
  • Katy L. Unwin
  • Oriane Landry
  • Irene Sperandio
Original Paper


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.


Visual 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.

Author Contributions

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.

Supplementary material

10803_2016_2753_MOESM1_ESM.docx (14 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 14 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philippe A. Chouinard
    • 1
  • Katy L. Unwin
    • 2
  • Oriane Landry
    • 1
  • Irene Sperandio
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Psychology and Public HealthLa Trobe UniversityBendigoAustralia
  2. 2.School of PsychologyCardiff UniversityCardiffWales, United Kingdom
  3. 3.School of PsychologyUniversity of East AngliaNorwichEngland, United Kingdom

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