Automatic metaphor processing in adults with Asperger syndrome: a metaphor interference effect task

Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2013 Nov;263 Suppl 2:S177-87. doi: 10.1007/s00406-013-0453-9. Epub 2013 Oct 1.


This paper investigates automatic processing of novel metaphors in adults with Asperger Syndrome (AS) and typically developing controls. We present an experiment combining a semantic judgment task and a recognition task. Four types of sentences were compared: Literally true high-typical sentences, literally true low-typical sentences, apt metaphors, and scrambled metaphors (literally false sentences which are not readily interpretable as metaphors). Participants were asked to make rapid decisions about the literal truth of such sentences. The results revealed that AS and control participants showed significantly slower RTs for metaphors than for scrambled metaphors and made more mistakes in apt metaphoric sentences than in scrambled metaphors. At the same time, there was higher recognition of apt metaphors compared with scrambled metaphors. The findings indicate intact automatic metaphor processing in AS and replicate previous findings on automatic metaphor processing in typically developing individuals.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Asperger Syndrome / psychology*
  • Comprehension*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Language
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Metaphor*
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reaction Time
  • Self-Assessment
  • Young Adult