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Testing the 'Extreme Female Brain' Theory of Psychosis in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder with or without Co-Morbid Psychosis.

Larson FV, Lai MC, Wagner AP, MRC AIMS ConsortiumBaron-Cohen S, Holland AJ - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: People with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) show a drive for systemizing over empathizing, irrespective of sex, which led to the conceptualisation of ASD as an 'extreme of the typical male brain'.There were overall differences in the distribution of cognitive style.This was modulated by IQ, and the group-difference was driven mainly by individuals with above-average IQ.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Cambridge Intellectual and Development Disabilities Research Group, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

ABSTRACT

Introduction: Males and females in the general population differ, on average, in their drive for empathizing (higher in females) and systemizing (higher in males). People with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) show a drive for systemizing over empathizing, irrespective of sex, which led to the conceptualisation of ASD as an 'extreme of the typical male brain'. The opposite cognitive profile, an 'extreme of the typical female brain', has been proposed to be linked to conditions such as psychosis and mania/hypomania.

Methods: We compared an empathizing-over-systemizing bias (for short 'empathizing bias') in individuals with ASD, who had experienced psychotic illness (N = 64) and who had not (N = 71).

Results: There were overall differences in the distribution of cognitive style. Adults with ASD who had experienced psychosis were more likely to show an empathizing bias than adults with ASD who had no history of psychosis. This was modulated by IQ, and the group-difference was driven mainly by individuals with above-average IQ. In women with ASD and psychosis, the link between mania/hypomania and an empathizing bias was greater than in men with ASD.

Conclusions: The bias for empathizing over systemizing may be linked to the presence of psychosis in people with ASD. Further research is needed in a variety of clinical populations, to understand the role an empathizing bias may play in the development and manifestation of mental illness.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Fitted empathizing bias (EB) means.This figure shows fitted EB means with 95% confidence intervals, within each group at each level of the categorized full-scale IQ.
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pone.0128102.g002: Fitted empathizing bias (EB) means.This figure shows fitted EB means with 95% confidence intervals, within each group at each level of the categorized full-scale IQ.

Mentions: Given the interaction between group membership and FSIQ, it is difficult to interpret differences in EB between ASD-P and ASD-NP. Thus, to aid interpretation, we categorized FSIQ into three groups based on population norms (mean = 100 and standard deviation (SD) = 15): low (less than 85, more than 1 SD below the mean), average (85 to 115, a two SD range, centred on the mean) and high (>115, over 1 SD above the mean). We then fitted a regression model that included terms for (categorized) FSIQ, group membership and their interaction (a similar model to that reported in Table 2, but excluding sex and using the categorical form of FSIQ). The fitted means, with 95% CI, within each group at each of the categorical levels of FSIQ are shown in Fig 2. There was a clear difference between groups at the high level of FSIQ, with ASD-NP scoring lower than ASD-P. The approach of categorising a continuous variable into groups defined by SD distance from a mean to explore a continuous/categorical interaction has been illustrated by O’Connor [42] and is described in Aiken and West [43], and Cohen and Cohen [44].


Testing the 'Extreme Female Brain' Theory of Psychosis in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder with or without Co-Morbid Psychosis.

Larson FV, Lai MC, Wagner AP, MRC AIMS ConsortiumBaron-Cohen S, Holland AJ - PLoS ONE (2015)

Fitted empathizing bias (EB) means.This figure shows fitted EB means with 95% confidence intervals, within each group at each level of the categorized full-scale IQ.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4466563&req=5

pone.0128102.g002: Fitted empathizing bias (EB) means.This figure shows fitted EB means with 95% confidence intervals, within each group at each level of the categorized full-scale IQ.
Mentions: Given the interaction between group membership and FSIQ, it is difficult to interpret differences in EB between ASD-P and ASD-NP. Thus, to aid interpretation, we categorized FSIQ into three groups based on population norms (mean = 100 and standard deviation (SD) = 15): low (less than 85, more than 1 SD below the mean), average (85 to 115, a two SD range, centred on the mean) and high (>115, over 1 SD above the mean). We then fitted a regression model that included terms for (categorized) FSIQ, group membership and their interaction (a similar model to that reported in Table 2, but excluding sex and using the categorical form of FSIQ). The fitted means, with 95% CI, within each group at each of the categorical levels of FSIQ are shown in Fig 2. There was a clear difference between groups at the high level of FSIQ, with ASD-NP scoring lower than ASD-P. The approach of categorising a continuous variable into groups defined by SD distance from a mean to explore a continuous/categorical interaction has been illustrated by O’Connor [42] and is described in Aiken and West [43], and Cohen and Cohen [44].

Bottom Line: People with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) show a drive for systemizing over empathizing, irrespective of sex, which led to the conceptualisation of ASD as an 'extreme of the typical male brain'.There were overall differences in the distribution of cognitive style.This was modulated by IQ, and the group-difference was driven mainly by individuals with above-average IQ.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Cambridge Intellectual and Development Disabilities Research Group, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

ABSTRACT

Introduction: Males and females in the general population differ, on average, in their drive for empathizing (higher in females) and systemizing (higher in males). People with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) show a drive for systemizing over empathizing, irrespective of sex, which led to the conceptualisation of ASD as an 'extreme of the typical male brain'. The opposite cognitive profile, an 'extreme of the typical female brain', has been proposed to be linked to conditions such as psychosis and mania/hypomania.

Methods: We compared an empathizing-over-systemizing bias (for short 'empathizing bias') in individuals with ASD, who had experienced psychotic illness (N = 64) and who had not (N = 71).

Results: There were overall differences in the distribution of cognitive style. Adults with ASD who had experienced psychosis were more likely to show an empathizing bias than adults with ASD who had no history of psychosis. This was modulated by IQ, and the group-difference was driven mainly by individuals with above-average IQ. In women with ASD and psychosis, the link between mania/hypomania and an empathizing bias was greater than in men with ASD.

Conclusions: The bias for empathizing over systemizing may be linked to the presence of psychosis in people with ASD. Further research is needed in a variety of clinical populations, to understand the role an empathizing bias may play in the development and manifestation of mental illness.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus