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An autistic evening…

Just back with Em from a very enjoyable talk given by Simon Baron-Cohen on Gifted Scientists and Autism – Is there a connection? as part of the Cambridge Science Festival

He quickly dismissed the work done on finding autistic traits from the biographies of Newton and Einstein as been unfair, unreliable and unclear even though someone who lectured for 17 years to an empty lecture theatre may be construed as rather odd.

Simon then went on to describe the traits associated with Autism and Aspergers and how the ratio of diagnoses varies between the sexes (Autism 4:1 males/females) (Aspergers 9:1 males/females)
Then pointing out that everyone shows some of these traits, so they were looking into small changes. (Interestingly at this point the original lecture theme is lost and he just started talking about ‘scientists’ and more specifically entrants to Cambridge University science departments) .
He then described the various tests they have created to measure Empathy Quotient, Systemizing Quotient, Autism-Spectrum quotient

Then he showed some neat work done with at 12 months that girls had better eye contact with their mother (22) Boys (16) Autisitc (5) and then with 24 hours old babies showing that boys preferred looking at mobiles rather than faces.

Then went on to correlate this to Foetal testosterone
even though identical twins only have a 60% correlation in diagnosis of Autism. followed very quickly by some brain scan images showing that females brains worked differently when looking at emotions conveyed by eye images.

We sat behind Lindy Beveridge who told Em and I that the architects of the new Maths building in Cambridge had designed it specifically for Autistic people. Also about the Professor who nearly lost his job over suggesting that women should relax more in pregnancy because the adrenal gland produces testosterone in women.

An interesting evening, although I really need to start learning more about statistics, David Spiegelhalter here I come….