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Cognitive Deficits in Autism May be Gender Specific

By Mark N. Ziats on November 9, 2012


Background: Prior studies have indicated that more males are affected by autism than females, at a rate commonly reported to be 4:1.  However, this gender difference may be partly due to an underdiagnosis of females because females may present different manifestations of the disorder than males.


What’s new: In a study published in the journal PLoS One on 17 October 2012, researchers compared cognitive task performance between adult males and females with and without autism. On tests measuring non-verbal communication, males and females with autism produced similar results.  In contrast, on tasks measuring executive functions,,such as planning and attention to detail, males with autism scored significantly worse than males without autism, but females with autism performed similar to unaffected females.  The authors of the study suggest that some cognitive abilities affected in autism may be gender specific.


Why it’s important: This research suggests that gender-specific diagnostic tests and therapeutic interventions may more effectively treat and diagnose autism.

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