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disorders of childhoos and adolescence - autism (4).docx

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McMaster University
Richard B Day

October 5 , 2012 Psych 2AP3: Abnormal Psychology – Major Disorders Disorders of Childhood and Adolescence: Autism (4) Extreme Male Brain Theory - autistic children recognize their own faces but do not try to interact with them as normal children do - systematizers (male):  identifying, understanding rules that govern a system - empathizers (female):  recognizing and responding to the feelings of others - males are systematizers (weak on empathy) - females are empathizers (weak on systematizing) - autism show strong systematic brain, impairing social interaction - autism = extreme male brain - explains social disability in autism:  lack of empathic understanding of others - explains islets of special ability:  math, art, music all depend on systematizing - explains ritualistic interests:  predictable, systematic behaviour - assertive mating between systematizers: people with certain characteristics that tend to mate  parents of autistic children (POA) faster on embedded figures test than others  POA more likely to have systematizing fathers (e.g., engineers)  Male/female brain activity different when empathizing or systematizing: POA show male pattern  POA higher on self-reported autistic traits - explains why more males than females have autism Intense World Theory - strong response to sensory stimulation: brains are overly sensitive find the world chaotic and therefore live within themselves - valproic acid (VPA) and autism: mood stabilizer, anti-convulsive  VPA moms = 10% ASD children, 6 times more likely to give birth to children with autism  In utero VPA (rats):  Brainstem damage  Social withdrawal  Hyper-reactivity to sensory stimuli  More cortical cells  More intra-, extra-cortical connections  Leads to hypersensitivity to stimulation - brain has too many connections - brain hyper-reactive to stimuli - individual withdraws to cope with chaos: focusing on narrow details, keeping away from situations with stimulation (interactions)  social withdrawal = language decrement  repetition, stereotypy = controlling chaos  source of face perception problems - amygdala = rapid conditioning of fear  leads to fear of world & withdrawal - sees autism as extreme form of introversion Empathy Imbalance Hypothesis - cognitive versus emotional empathy:  cognitive (CE) = understanding others’ epistemic mental states (same as ToM)  emotional (EE) = feeling what others feel as a result of others’ emotions - too little co
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