August 2016
Volume 16, Issue 12
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2016
Context-given benefits: Saliency-based selection as a function of autism and psychosis traits
Author Affiliations
  • Ahmad Abu-Akel
    School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, UK
  • Ian Apperly
    School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, UK
  • Mayra Spaniol
    School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, UK
  • Joy Geng
    Department of Psychology, University of California Davis, Davis, CA, USA
  • Carmel Mevorach
    School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, UK
Journal of Vision September 2016, Vol.16, 16. doi:
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      Ahmad Abu-Akel, Ian Apperly, Mayra Spaniol, Joy Geng, Carmel Mevorach; Context-given benefits: Saliency-based selection as a function of autism and psychosis traits. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):16.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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ntroduction: Independent lines of evidence suggest a potentially contrasting effect of autism and schizophrenia and the broader spectrum of their traits in neurotypical participants on attention processes, particularly in conditions requiring distractor suppression. However, previous studies fail to highlight a consistent effect on performance. One possible explanation is the type of attention suppression that is called upon (rather than the need to suppress distractors per se). The present study examined (1) whether autism versus psychosis expressions induce contrasting effects on target selection in the presence of a non-target salient element, and (2) whether this effect varies in tasks that tap reactive (post stimulus presentation) versus proactive (pre stimulus presentation) attentional control. Method: Autism tendencies and psychosis proneness were assessed in tandem in a total of 127 neurotypical adults. In study 1, 58 participants performed an adapted version of the morphed face-discrimination task that taps proactive attentional control. In study 2, 69 participants performed a visual search task that taps reactive control. Results: Both studies show that autism and psychotic traits exert a contrastive effect on the processing of a target in the presence of non-target salient element. In the proactive task, high autistic traits were beneficial but high psychosis proneness was detrimental for performance. Strikingly, this pattern reversed for the reactive task, where high psychosis proneness was beneficial and high autistic traits were detrimental for performance. Conclusion: The results provide converging evidence for the contrastive effect of autism and psychosis traits on target selection and distractor suppression within the same cohort. Critically, the pattern suggests a double dissociation between the two with autism and psychosis traits associated with proactive and reactive modes of selection and suppression, respectively. These results can have important implications for clinical interventions as they identify context-given benefits for autism and psychosis.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016


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