Autism Journal Club

The role of autistic traits in the sorting of objects: How systemizing influences local or global processing

Margo will be presenting her Masters thesis. Abstract: The present study sought to investigate the relationship between preference for sorting objects on the basis of either local (such as color or size), or global (such as genre or category membership) criteria and score on the Systemizing Quotient (SQ) in individuals with and without autism. Participants (n = 53) completed a preferential sorting task in which they were asked to divide sets of objects into two categories based on any criteria of their choosing. The objects were differentiable based on some local or global element. As hypothesized, a positive correlation between SQ score and preference for sorting objects based on local criteria was confirmed, indicating an attentional bias towards processing local stimuli in highly systematic individuals. An existing autism diagnosis was also found to predict an inclination to sort objects based on local elements. These results can be interpreted as further evidence for an attentional preference in high-systemizing individuals (such as those on the autism spectrum) to process local, rather than global, features of visual stimuli.