Brief report: Perceptual load and the autism spectrum in typically developed individuals

Andrew P. Bayliss, Ada Kritikos

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A fundamental task of the cognitive system is to prioritize behaviourally relevant sensory inputs for processing at the expense of irrelevant inputs. In a study of neurotypical participants (n = 179), we utilized a brief flanker interference task while varying the perceptual load of the visual display. Typically, increasing perceptual load (i.e., with greater numbers of search items) reduces interference from a competing peripheral distractor. We show that individuals who score above average on the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) show stronger interference at high perceptual load than individuals with below-average AQ scores. This is consistent with recent findings in individuals with autism spectrum conditions, and supports the idea that the cognitive style of the autistic brain is reflected in a broader phenotype across the population.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1573-1578
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


  • \'a visual se
  • spectrum quotient \'a
  • perceptual load \'a attention
  • flanker task \'a autism

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