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Male Brain Theory of Autism

The extreme male brain theory of autism was initially proposed in 2002 by Simon Baron-Cohen, who founded the Autism Research Centre in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have always been more commonly diagnosed in males than females, with a ratio of four boys to every girl. Hans Asperger, whose name was later used to describe highly verbal autistic people, had never seen a female patient. He made the following prescient suggestion: “Even within the normal variation, we find typical sex differences … in the autistic individual, the male pattern is exaggerated to the extreme” (Asperger, 1944, as cited in Frith, 1991, 84–85).

The extreme male brain theory of autism reformulates Asperger’s comment with respect to two psychological factors: empathy and systemizing. This theory ...

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