Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Autism and Biological Sex

Scientists at the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge have reported that studies using magnetic resonance imaging have revealed that autism affects the brain of males and females differently. Estimates are that autism affects about 1% of the general public. Because more males than females have been identified, most studies have used male-dominant samples. This has resulted in a male-based understanding of this condition. According to Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, senior author of the paper, one of the new findings was “that females with autism show neuroanatomical 'masculinization'. This may implicate physiological mechanisms that drive sexual dimorphism, such as prenatal sex hormones and sex-linked genetic mechanisms." The article summary indicated that autism appears to manifest itself differently based on biological sex, although how differences in neuroanatomy relate to the similarities in cognition between males and females with autism remains to be understood. Future research should stratify by biological sex to reduce heterogeneity and to provide greater insight into the neurobiology of autism.

University of Cambridge. "Autism affects different parts of the brain in women and men." ScienceDaily, 9 Aug. 2013. Web. 20 Aug. 2013.

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