Investigation of The Relationship Between Visual Orientation Discrimination Thresholds and Autistic Traits: A Saudi Sample

Journal Article
BinDawood, Abdullah . 2021
Publication Work Type
In-press article
Excitation-Inhibition balance, Autsitic Traits, Orientation Discrimination Task, ODT
Magazine \ Newspaper
Saudi Journal of Psychological Sciences
Issue Number
(68) Upcoming edition of the journal
Publication Abstract

Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) has been hypothesised to associate with cortical Excitation-Inhibition balance. Indirect indications supporting such hypothesis comes from performance level in psychophysical tasks such as Orientation Discrimination task (ODT), given the association between performance in such task and the main inhibitory transmitter (GABA) in the occipital cortex. The current study aimed to reinvestigate the relationship between orientation discrimination thresholds (measured by ODT) and autistic traits (measured by Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ)) with a Saudi sample. Due to the lack of any information regarding the psychometric properties of the Arabic version of AQ, a pilot study was conducted to check the reliability and the validity of the AQ scale via an online survey. Analyses of 104 complete responses to the AQ online survey from male adults (18- 64) showed that the Arabic version of AQ has acceptable reliability and validity properties. To investigate the relationship between orientation discrimination thresholds, Data from 46 male undergraduate students at the Psychology Department of King Saud University were collected. Results showed that individuals with higher autistic traits had higher OD thresholds (lower performance level), suggesting increased cortical excitation in individuals with high autistic traits. Current findings are inconsistent with previous studies conducted with British samples, which showed that high autistic traits were associated with enhanced ODT performance, suggesting increased cortical inhibition in individuals with high autistic traits. Possible explanations of the inconsistencies between the findings of the current study and previous ones are discussed. Future studies should investigate whether such a relation between ODT performance and autistic traits of the Saudi sample could be replicated with Saudi individuals with ASC.