Impact of autism may be different in men and women

October 17, 2012, Public Library of Science

Men and women with autism spectrum conditions (ASC) may show subtle but significant differences in the cognitive functions impacted by the condition, according to new research published Oct 17 by Meng-Chuan Lai and colleagues from the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge, UK in the open access journal PLOS ONE.

Though individuals with autism show sex-specific differences in serum biomarkers, genetics and , little is known about any sex-dependent differences in cognition caused by ASC. Following their previous report on behavioral sex differences in adults with ASC (also published in , see (http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0020835 ), in this new study the researchers compared four aspects of cognition in adults with ASC to those with typical development. They found that perception of facial emotions was equally impaired across both sexes in individuals with ASC. In tasks involving attention to detail or dexterity requiring strategic thinking, women with ASC performed comparably to women without ASC, but men with ASC showed more difficulties than neurotypical men.

According to the authors, their results suggest that the severity with which certain cognitive functions are affected by autism may be dependent on sex, and has implications for assessment and intervention of ASC.

"What we know about males with ASC should not be assumed to generalize to females", said Dr. Lai. "Their similarities and differences need to be investigated systematically in ."

Explore further: Diagnosed autism is more common in an IT-rich region

More information: Lai M-C, Lombardo MV, Ruigrok ANV, Chakrabarti B, Wheelwright SJ, et al. (2012) Cognition in Males and Females with Autism: Similarities and Differences. PLoS ONE 7(10): e47198. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047198

Related Stories

Diagnosed autism is more common in an IT-rich region

June 20, 2011
A new study from Cambridge University has for the first time found that autism diagnoses are more common in an IT-rich region.

Mutations in 3 genes linked to autism spectrum disorders

April 4, 2012
Mutations in three new genes have been linked to autism, according to new studies including one with investigators at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. All three studies include lead investigators of the Autism Sequencing Consortium ...

Who's happy? How long we look at happy faces is in our genes

June 29, 2011
Though we all depend on reading people's faces, each of us sees others' faces a bit differently. Some of us may gaze deeply into another's eyes, while others seem more reserved. At one end of this spectrum people with autism ...

Men and women have major personality differences

January 4, 2012
Men and women have large differences in personality, according to a new study published Jan. 4 in the online journal PLoS ONE.

Recommended for you

Nearly imperceptible fluctuations in movement correspond to autism diagnoses

January 17, 2018
A new study led by researchers at Indiana University and Rutgers University provides the strongest evidence yet that nearly imperceptible changes in how people move can be used to diagnose neurodevelopmental disorders, including ...

Epigenetics study helps focus search for autism risk factors

January 16, 2018
Scientists have long tried to pin down the causes of autism spectrum disorder. Recent studies have expanded the search for genetic links from identifying genes toward epigenetics, the study of factors that control gene expression ...

Being bilingual may help autistic children

January 16, 2018
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) often have a hard time switching gears from one task to another. But being bilingual may actually make it a bit easier for them to do so, according to a new study which was recently ...

No rise in autism in US in past three years: study

January 2, 2018
After more than a decade of steady increases in the rate of children diagnosed with autism in the United States, the rate has plateaued in the past three years, researchers said Tuesday.

Autism therapy: Brain stimulation restores social behavior in mice

December 13, 2017
Scientists are examining the feasibility of treating autistic children with neuromodulation after a new study showed social impairments can be corrected by brain stimulation.

Social phobia linked to autism and schizophrenia

December 11, 2017
New Swinburne research shows that people who find social situations difficult tend to have similar brain responses to those with schizophrenia or autism.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.