Reduced interhemispheric interaction in non-autistic individuals with normal but high levels of autism traits Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • People with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) show superior performance for tasks requiring detail-focused processing. Atypical neural connectivity and reduced interhemispheric communication are posited to underlie this cognitive advantage. Given recent conceptualization of autism as a continuum, we sought to investigate whether people with normal but high levels of autism like traits (AQ) also exhibit reduced hemispheric interaction. Sixty right-handed participants completed the AQ questionnaire (Baron-Cohen, Wheelwright, Skinner, Martin, & Clubley, 2001) and a lateralised letter matching task that assessed unilateral and bilateral performance in response to simple (physical) and complex (identity) matches. Whereas people with low self-rated AQ scores showed a bilateral advantage for the more complex task, indicating normal interhemispheric interaction, people in the high AQ group failed to show a bilateral gain for the computationally demanding stimuli. This finding of disrupted interhemispheric interaction converges with a dimensional conceptualisation of ASD, suggesting that the structural anomalies of ASD extend to non-autistic individuals with high levels of autism traits.

publication date

  • November 2013