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The self-reference effect on perception: Undiminished in adults with autism and no relation to autism traits

Williams, David M., Nicholson, Toby, Grainger, Catherine (2018) The self-reference effect on perception: Undiminished in adults with autism and no relation to autism traits. Autism Research, 11 (2). pp. 331-341. ISSN 1939-3792. E-ISSN 1939-3806. (doi:10.1002/aur.1891) (KAR id:64644)

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Memory for (and perception of) information about the self is superior to memory for (and perception of) other kinds of information. This self-reference effect (SRE) in memory appears diminished in ASD and related to the number of ASD traits manifested by neurotypical individuals (fewer traits = larger SRE). Here, we report the first experiments exploring the relation between ASD and the SRE in perception. Using a “Shapes” Task (Sui et al., 2012), participants learned to associate three different shapes (triangle, circle, square) with three different labels representing self, a familiar other, or an unfamiliar other (e.g., “you”, “mother”, “stranger”). Participants then completed trials during which they were presented with one shape and one label for 100ms, and made judgements about whether the shape and label were a match. In Experiment 1, neurotypical participants (n=124) showed the expected SRE, detecting self-related matches more reliably and quickly than matches involving familiar or unfamiliar other. Most important, number of ASD traits was unrelated to the size of the SRE for either accuracy or RT. Bayesian association analyses strongly supported the null hypothesis. In Experiment 2, there were no differences between 22 adults with ASD and 21 matched comparison adults in performance on the Shapes Task. Despite showing large and significant theory of mind impairments, participants with ASD showed the typical SRE and there were no associations with ASD traits in either group. In every case, Bayesian analyses favoured the null hypothesis. These findings challenge theories about self-representation in ASD, as discussed in the paper.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1002/aur.1891
Uncontrolled keywords: autism spectrum disorder, self-reference effect, self-awareness, metacognition, mindreading, memory, perception
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: David Williams
Date Deposited: 23 Nov 2017 11:04 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 13:50 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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