People with autism show extreme examples of ‘male mind’, say Cambridge University researchers led by Professor Simon Baron-Cohen

People with autism exhibit extreme examples of the the typical male mind, where logic and rules are stronger than empathy, according to new research.

In the largest psychological study of sex differences in adults with autism to date, scientists from the Autism Research Centre (ARC) at Cambridge University found both men and women with autism were more likely to look for underlying rules in a system rather than to try to recognise feelings.

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, who led the study at the ARC, said: “Our study provides strong evidence in support of the ‘extreme male brain’ theory of autism.”

He said“The results also fit with other research showing that children who go on to have autism show elevated prenatal levels steroid hormones – such as testosterone – which affect the development of the brain and the mind.”

Researchers tested 811 adults with autism, including 454 women, and compared them to 3,906 typical adults, including 2,562 women.

The adults took part in three questionnaires which measured the number of autistic traits a person has, how easily they show empathy to others and how interested the person is in systems – such as maps, machines and numbers.

The results indicated that typical females scored higher on empathy while typical males tended to score higher on the autistic traits and interest in systems. …

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