Just as the human face can be depicted as feminine or masculine, brain structures are also distinct in a way to determine masculine or feminine structure. Male and female brain structures, however, can be developed in both men and women. This is the reason women with masculine brain structures are at a higher risk to develop autism spectrum disorder. The idea of masculine and feminine brain structures stem from the idea of men having thinner cortex and women having thicker cortex. Due to this, men are more likely to develop the autism spectrum disorder than women because they are more likely to have the masculine brain anatomy.
In addition, when discussing autism, it is important to note that the condition is neurodevelopmental which indicates that symptoms begin during childhood and children are more likely to not achieve typical milestones of maturity. Physicians use the term spectrum to provide a range of symptoms or level of disability to measure different persons. For instance, some autistic patients may not be able to function in social environments but they possess extraordinary math skills. Over time, the condition will allow the individual to function on a higher or lower level – there is a possibility of change in behavior depending on the individual. According to Christine Ecker, professor at Goethe University, autism spectrum disorder is two to five times more common in males. Her research team, however, have not been studying the probability of autism developing in the male population – but more so the male brain structure population.
Moreover, Christine Ecker and her team based their research on the study of brain anatomy differences that could potentially lead to the development of autism spectrum disorder. To test their theory, they evaluated the cortical thickness of the brain in relation to the condition. Ecker notes, “females tend to have a thicker cortex than males in various regions of the brain” and “previous studies have also shown thickness to be significantly altered in people with autism”. To conduct the study, the researchers tested “98 high-functioning adults with autism (49 of them men) and 98 adults without autism (51 of them men). Both groups were roughly within the same age range: mid-20s, on average”. People who had a history of head injuries or abnormities were excluded from the participant pool. To carry out their study, the researchers used a MRI scan to observe cortical thickness or the grey matter across the surface of the cortex. What researchers found, as stated above, is that brain phenotype varies from men to women. Women who had male structured brains were at high risk for the autism spectrum disorder. Why is this? The thicker the matter across the cortex the harder it is for the brain to fully interact as a system.
Furthermore, Ecker explained how her goal consisted of finding a way to start earlier diagnosis of the autism spectrum disorder. This biological approach could show physicians ahead of time if their patients are at risk. In addition, this can also benefit psychologists, who are treating autistic patients in that it will provide concrete proof to their assumptions. The most important thing to take away would be “Women with male brain anatomy are three times more likely to develop the autism spectrum disorder than women with female brain anatomy”.
I would have to argue that this research project was very informative and interesting. Throughout the project I was able to read many interesting articles that covered autism spectrum disorder and got a grasp of what the disease is and is capable of. Prior to my research, I knew about the neurodevelopmental disease but I did not know the specifics. Since reading about the condition more, I have a firm idea of how the condition can act as a social, physical, and mental burden. Socially, autistic individuals may have a harder time interacting with others when compared to someone living without the condition. Physically, the disease can cause individuals to express little emotion or large amounts of emotions when faced with certain stimuli. Mentally, I believe the disease can be the biggest burden in that it disengages autistic individuals from the rest of their environment.
The disorder may seem as a huge disadvantage because it makes social cues harder to identify from autistic individuals perception and it can also cause one to lack emotion in serious situations. Living with autism spectrum disorder, however, isn’t all that bad. The disorder can come with a few negatives as well as positives. Some autistic individuals are able to focus intensely on specific activities or subjects that allow them to exceed others of that field. For instance, a well known example would be autistic individuals who are math or science geniuses. The idea here is that these individuals are able to see complex things in a much simpler way.
In conclusion, I now have a new perspective on autism spectrum disorder and how it affects the everyday lives of individuals. Moving forward, I would like to continue my research and become more involved with the autism movement.
Scutti, Susan. “‘Male Brains’ Linked to Higher Autism Risk in Women, Study Says.” CNN. Cable News Network, 08 Feb. 2017. Web. 02 May 2017.