Public Lecture - Professor Simon Baron-Cohen
'Do hormones affect how your mind develops? The foetal testosterone theory of autism'
- Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, Autism Research Centre, Cambridge University
Watch Professor Simon Baron-Cohen's lecture:
Autism affects males much more often than females. The explanation for this must either lie in diagnostic practice, hormones, or genetics, or a mix of all three.
In this lecture, Professor Baron-Cohen summarises work from three lines of investigation:
- The role of foetal testosterone (FT) in later social and communication development, and in the development of autistic traits. The study uses amnio centesis, the timing of which coincides with the surge in FT production, and is a longitudinal follow-up of typically developing children.
- The evidence for hormone dysregulation in autism. This includes evidence from the timing of puberty, and the association with testosterone-linked medical conditions in autism.
- The association between candidate genes that regulate testosterone, and autism. These three lines of research suggest FT is a key factor underlying social development and may play a part in autism. Converging evidence for the link between testosterone and autistic traits comes from rare medical conditions where FT is elevated (such as Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia). The discussion ties these different lines of evidence together.