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A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies on metaphor comprehension in individuals with autism spectrum disorder: Do task properties matter?

  • Tamar Kalandadze (a1) (a2), Valentina Bambini (a3) and Kari-Anne B. Næss (a1)


Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often experience difficulty in comprehending metaphors compared to individuals with typical development (TD). However, there is a large variation in the results across studies, possibly related to the properties of the metaphor tasks. This preregistered systematic review and meta-analysis (a) explored the properties of the metaphor tasks used in ASD research, and (b) investigated the group difference between individuals with ASD and TD on metaphor comprehension, as well as the relationship between the task properties and any between-study variation. A systematic search was undertaken in seven relevant databases. Fourteen studies fulfilled our predetermined inclusion criteria. Across tasks, we detected four types of response format and a great variety of metaphors in terms of familiarity, syntactic structure, and linguistic context. Individuals with TD outperformed individuals with ASD on metaphor comprehension (Hedges’ g = −0.63). Verbal explanation response format was utilized in the study showing the largest effect size in the group comparison. However, due to the sparse experimental manipulations, the role of task properties could not be established. Future studies should consider and report task properties to determine their role in metaphor comprehension, and to inform experimental paradigms as well as educational assessment.


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References marked with an asterisk (*) indicate studies included in the systematic review and the meta-analysis.

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A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies on metaphor comprehension in individuals with autism spectrum disorder: Do task properties matter?

  • Tamar Kalandadze (a1) (a2), Valentina Bambini (a3) and Kari-Anne B. Næss (a1)


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