Schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSDs) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are associated with cognitive disabilities. The two conditions have historically been diagnosed separately using various tests and methods. However, medical experts believe that characterizing social cognitive deficits can improve the shared pathways of the two disorders. This study aims to evaluate the divergence of cognitive domains between SSDs and ASFs.

This systematic review, meta-analysis, and meta-regression included a total of 33 studies that reported performance-based measures of cognition in SSDs and ASD. The primary outcome of the study was the effect size as calculated by Hedges g (SSDs vs. ASD). The effect on emotion processing tasks, theory of mind (ToM) tasks, and the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET) was considered.

The findings suggested the prevalence of small, male-dominant samples, along with a paucity of cross-disorder clinical measures. The meta-analysis showed that there was no statistically significant difference between SSDs and ASD on emotion processing measures, ToM measures, and RMET. However, performance differences were heterogeneous and statistically insignificant.

The research concluded that there were no statistically significant differences in emotion processing, the theory of mind, and the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test in participants with SSDs and ASD.