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Comparison of social cognitive functioning in schizophrenia and high functioning autism: more convergence than divergence

  • S. M. Couture (a1), D. L. Penn (a1) (a2), M. Losh (a2) (a3), R. Adolphs (a4), R. Hurley (a3) and J. Piven (a2) (a3)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 12 August 2009

Individuals with schizophrenia and individuals with high-functioning autism (HFA) seem to share some social, behavioral and biological features. Although marked impairments in social cognition have been documented in both groups, little empirical work has compared the social cognitive functioning of these two clinical groups.


Forty-four individuals with schizophrenia, 36 with HFA and 41 non-clinical controls completed a battery of social cognitive measures that have been linked previously to specific brain regions.


The results indicate that the individuals with schizophrenia and HFA were both impaired on a variety of social cognitive tasks relative to the non-clinical controls, but did not differ from one another. When individuals with schizophrenia were divided into negative symptom and paranoid subgroups, exploratory analyses revealed that individuals with HFA may be more similar, in terms of the pattern of social cognition impairments, to the negative symptom group than to the paranoia group.


Our findings provide further support for similarities in social cognition deficits between HFA and schizophrenia, which have a variety of implications for future work on gene–brain–behavior relationships.

Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: Dr S. M. Couture, Department of Psychology, University of Maryland College Park, 1123M Biology-Psychology Building, College Park, MD20742S, USA. (Email:
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Psychological Medicine
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