Strange words: Autistic traits and the processing of non-literal language

Peter Edward McKenna, Alexandra Glass, Gnanathusharan Rajendran, Martin Corley*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
133 Downloads (Pure)


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
Pages (from-to)3606-3612
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number11
Early online date21 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015


  • Autistic Quotient
  • Autistic traits
  • Figurative language
  • Language processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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