Our capacity to attend a target while ignoring irrelevant distraction impacts our ability to successfully interact with our environment. Previous reports have sometimes identified excessive distractor interference in both autism and schizophrenia spectrum disorders and in neurotypical individuals with high subclinical expressions of these conditions. Independent of task, we show that the direction of the effect of autism or psychosis traits on the suppression or rejection of a non-target item is diametrical. In Study 1, in which the presence of a salient non-target item hindered performance, higher autism traits were associated with better performance, while higher psychosis traits were associated with worse performance. In Study 2, in which the presence of a salient non-target item facilitated performance, a complete reversal of effects was observed. Future clinical interventions may be informed by the context-specific advantages we observed for the autism and psychosis spectra, and by the need to consider the diametric effects they yield.
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© 2018 The Author(s).
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