Strange Words: Autistic Traits and the Processing of Non-Literal Language

Peter McKenna, Alexandra Glass, Gnanathusharan Rajendran, Martin Corley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Previous investigations into metonymy comprehension in ASD have confounded metonymy with anaphora, and outcome with process. Here we show how these confounds may be avoided, using data from non-diagnosed participants classified using Autism Quotient. Participants read sentences containing target words with novel or established metonymic senses (e.g, Finland, Vietnam) in literal- or figurative-supporting contexts. Participants took longer to read target words in figurative contexts, especially where the metonymic sense was novel. Importantly, participants with higher AQs took longer still to read novel metonyms. This suggests a focus for further exploration, in terms of potential differences between individuals diagnosed with ASD and their neurotypical counterparts, and more generally in terms of the processes by which comprehension is achieved.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2015

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Autistic Traits
  • Autistic Quotient
  • Figurative Language
  • Language Processing


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