An investigation of reasoning by analogy in schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorder

Daniel C. Krawczyk, Michelle R. Kandalaft, Nyaz Didehbani, Tandra T. Allen, M. Michelle McClelland, Carol A. Tamminga, Sandra B. Chapman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Relational reasoning ability relies upon by both cognitive and social factors. We compared analogical reasoning performance in healthy controls (HC) to performance in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and individuals with schizophrenia (SZ). The experimental task required participants to find correspondences between drawings of scenes. Participants were asked to infer which item within one scene best matched a relational item within the second scene. We varied relational complexity, presence of distraction, and type of objects in the analogies (living or non-living items). We hypothesized that the cognitive differences present in SZ would reduce relational inferences relative to ASD and HC. We also hypothesized that both SZ and ASD would show lower performance on living item problems relative to HC due to lower social function scores. Overall accuracy was higher for HC relative to SZ, consistent with prior research. Across groups, higher relational complexity reduced analogical responding, as did the presence of non-living items. Separate group analyses revealed that the ASD group was less accurate at making relational inferences in problems that involved mainly non-living items and when distractors were present. The SZ group showed differences in problem type similar to the ASD group. Additionally, we found significant correlations between social cognitive ability and analogical reasoning, particularly for the SZ group. These results indicate that differences in cognitive and social abilities impact the ability to infer analogical correspondences along with numbers of relational elements and types of objects present in the problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number517
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Issue numberAUG
StatePublished - Aug 20 2014


  • Analogy
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Distraction
  • Reasoning
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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