Autism mind and brain

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Autism: Mind and Brain

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Autism: Mind and Brain
Edited by

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, London


Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths College, University of London, London Originating from a Theme Issue first published by Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Series B.1

Great Clarendon Street, Oxford OX2 6DP Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide in Oxford New York Auckland Bangkok Buenos Aires Cape Town Chennai Dar es Salaam Delhi Hong Kong Istanbul Karachi Kolkata Kuala Lumpur Madrid Melbourne Mexico CityMumbai Nairobi São Paulo Shanghai Taipei Tokyo Toronto Oxford is a registered trade mark of Oxford University Press in the UK and in certain other countries Published in the United States by Oxford University Press Inc., New York © The Royal Society, 2003 The moral rights of the author have been asserted Database right Oxford University Press (maker) First published by the Royal Society 2003 Firstpublished by Oxford University Press 2004 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of Oxford University Press, or as expressly permitted by law, or under terms agreed with the appropriate reprographics rights organization. Enquiries concerning reproductionoutside the scope of the above should be sent to the Rights Department, Oxford University Press, at the address above You must not circulate this book in any other binding or cover and you must impose this same condition on any acquirer A Catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library ISBN 0 19 852923 6 (Hbk) 0 19 852924 4 (Pbk) 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Typeset by Newgen ImagingSystems (P) Ltd., Chennai, India Printed in Great Britain on acid-free paper by Biddles Ltd, Guildford and King’s Lynn

Autism is probably the most fascinating and puzzling of all developmental disorders. It is characterised by a profound, yet subtle, impairment in social communication, a strong preference for routines, and an uneven profile of cognitive abilities. The more we find outabout autism, the more questions arise. Two major issues are currently debated: What abnormalities in the brain give rise to the core features of autism? And to what extent is the dramatic increase in cases of autism due to changes in the diagnostic criteria? In this book a collection of new studies is presented, which cover a remarkably large range of research interests, and which address some ofthe questions that arise from these two major issues. Here we pick out just a few of them. Asperger syndrome is a variant of autism that is increasingly diagnosed, but remains controversial. Chapter two, which is of some historical importance, explores whether the cases seen by Hans Asperger between 1940 and 1970 would meet the criteria used today. All chapters explore links between brain andmind in autism, and do this in a number of different ways. A recent finding, which is in urgent need of further research, is that the brains of individuals with autism tend to be larger than normal. How might brain size relate to intelligence and language in individual cases? Another recently confirmed finding, which is still not entirely understood, is that people with autism have difficulties inrecognizing faces. Can these difficulties be explained as part and parcel of impaired functioning of the social brain? An enduring question concerns the problems of impaired planning and flexibility in autism, thought to reflect poor functioning of the frontal lobes. How do these problems distinguish children with autism from those with attention deficits? Do the brain regions, which are known to...