News Archive

High levels of oestrogen in the womb linked to autism

Scientist have identified a link between exposure to high levels of oestrogen sex hormones in the womb and the likelihood of developing autism. The findings are published today in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.


Autistic adults experience high rates of negative life events

Autistic adults are vulnerable to many types of negative life experience, including employment difficulties, financial hardship, domestic abuse and ‘mate-crime’, according to new research published today in the journal Autism Research.


Levels of autism in China similar to the West, joint Chinese-UK study shows

Excerpt: The first large-scale study of autism in China has revealed that around one in a hundred people in China has an autism spectrum condition – the same figure as found in the West.


The largest ever study of psychological sex differences and autistic traits

Scientists at the University of Cambridge have completed the world’s largest ever study of typical sex differences and autistic traits. They tested and confirmed two long-standing psychological theories: the Empathizing-Systemizing theory of sex differences and the Extreme Male Brain theory of autism.

Working with the television production company Channel 4, they tested over half a million people, including over 36,000 autistic people. The results are published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Women with polycystic ovary syndrome are more likely to have a child with autism

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are more likely to have an autistic child, according to an analysis of NHS data carried out by a team at Cambridge University’s Autism Research Centre. The research is published today in the journal Translational Psychiatry.


'Lab In The Wild' Social Intelligence Test

An online test measuring the ability to read the emotions of others, which is linked to "social intelligence" which, in turn, is linked to performance on team-based problem solving tasks. Based on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test developed by prof. Simon Baron-Cohen at the ARC.


Genes influence ability to read a person’s mind from their eyes

Our DNA influences our ability to read a person’s thoughts and emotions from looking at their eyes, suggests a new study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.


Inaugral fellowship strengthens ties between Cambridge and the Chinese University of Hong Kong

Research links between the University of Cambridge and the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) were deepened following the award of the inaugural CUHK Autism Research Fellowship in Neuroscience to Cambridge doctoral candidate Dwaipayan (Deep) Adhya.


The basic human rights of autistic people are not being met, Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, a world expert on autism, told the United Nations in New York, to mark Autism Awareness Week

In his keynote speech, Professor Baron-Cohen argued that even with the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities having been adopted in 2006, people with autism still do not enjoy human rights to the same extent as everyone else.


Does your empathy predict if you would stop and help an injured person?

A team of psychologists at the University of Cambridge has conducted a social psychology experiment to test the theory that an individual’s level of empathy influences their behaviour. The results of their preliminary study, dubbed “The Trumpington Road Study” and published in the journal Social Neuroscience, suggest that this theory is correct.


PhD student presents research to United Nations

PhD student Alexa Pohl took on the impressive duty of speaking at a thematic briefing for the United Nations (UN). Ms Pohl, who has just entered the final year of her PhD, was asked to speak as a disability advocate at a briefing for the Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).


Study of half a million people reveals sex and job predict how many autistic traits you have

Study assesses Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ) scores in a ‘big data’ sample collected through the UK Channel 4 television website, following the broadcasting of a medical education program. DETAILS »


New results for 'Reading the Mind in the Eyes' test.

New results published by researchers at the Autism Research Centre (ARC) show both men and women with autism show an extreme of the typical male pattern on the 'Reading the Mind in the Eyes' test.


New insights into the male bias of autism

Male toddlers with autism have significant structural differences in their brains compared to females with the condition, according to research published in the open-access journal Molecular Autism.


Presence or absence of early language delay alters anatomy of the brain in autism

Individual differences in early language development, and in later language functioning, are associated with changes in the anatomy of the brain in autism.


Molecular Autism receives highest Impact Factor

On July 29, 2014, Thomson Reuters awarded an Impact Factor of 5.486 to the open access journal Molecular Autism. This represents the highest Impact Factor for any journal dedicated to autism or related neurodevelopmental conditions.


Males and females with autism show an extreme of the typical male mind

The largest ever psychological study of sex differences in adults with autism has found that both males and females with autism on average show an extreme of the typical male mind, where systemising (the drive to look for underlying rules in a system) is stronger than empathising (the ability to recognize the thoughts and feelings of others and to respond to these with appropriate emotions).


Adults with Asperger Syndrome at greater risk of suicidal thoughts

Adults with the autism spectrum condition known as Asperger Syndrome are significantly more likely to experience suicidal thoughts than people from the UK general population, according to the first large-scale clinical study of its kind.


Children with autism have elevated levels of steroid hormones in the womb

Children who later develop autism are exposed to elevated levels of steroid hormones (for example testosterone, progesterone and cortisol) in the womb, according to scientists from the University of Cambridge and the Statens Serum Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark. The finding may help explain why autism is more common in males than females. However, the researchers caution it should not be used to screen for the condition.


SAP and University of Cambridge to Team Up for Autism at Work Initiative

SAP AG announces a new internship program with the University of Cambridge that will support Autism at Work, the company's unique global initiative to employ people with autism.



Autism Research Centre publishes state-of-the-art Lancet review on autism to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the discovery of autism

A state-of-the-art review - part of the ‘Seminars’ series in The Lancet is published online on September 26th, 2013, by Cambridge autism researchers Dr Meng-Chuan Lai, Dr Michael Lombardo and Professor Simon Baron-Cohen. The Lancet Seminars are a seminal series focusing on specific clinical conditions, and has long been regarded as the go-to tutorial for doctors and clinical researchers worldwide. This review is the fourth of its kind, following precedents by world-renowned autism researcher Susan Levy, David Mandell and Robert Schultz in 2009, Fred Volkmar and David Pauls in 2003, and Lorna Wing in 1997. This new review from Cambridge covers the exponential development of autism research, particularly in the past five years.

Resource: The Lancet


Study confirms a gene linked to Asperger Syndrome and empathy

Scientists have confirmed that variations in a particular gene play a key role in the autism spectrum condition known as Asperger Syndrome. They have also found that variations in the same gene are also linked to differences in empathy levels in the general population.



People with autism are more likely to also have synaesthesia, suggests new research in the journal Molecular Autism.

People with autism are more likely to also have synaesthesia, suggests new research in the journal Molecular Autism. Synaesthesia involves people experiencing a ‘mixing of the senses’, for example, seeing colours when they hear sounds, or reporting that musical notes evoke different tastes. Autism is diagnosed when a person struggles with social relationships and communication, and shows unusually narrow interests and resistance to change. The team of scientists from Cambridge University found that whereas synaesthesia only occurred in 7.2% of typical individuals, it occurred in 18.9% of people with autism.

Download publication ...



Pioneering Autism Centre opens its doors

A pioneering centre for people with autism has been officially opened by HRH The Countess of Wessex. More than 150 people attended the opening of the Chitra Sethia Autism Centre at the Fulbourn Hospital site, part of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT), on Thursday 5 September.



Pioneering Autism Centre opens its doors

A pioneering centre for people with autism has now opened its doors in Cambridge. The Chitra Sethia Autism Centre is based at the Fulbourn Hospital site, part of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT).

The new Autism Centre has been made possible thanks to the Autism Research Trust (ART) and the National Autistic Society (NAS) who received a grant from the N Sethia Foundation to redevelop the existing building.

The Autism Centre will be the new home of CPFT’s Cambridge Lifespan Asperger Syndrome Service (CLASS) clinic. The clinic has been providing specialist diagnostic assessments for adults who may have Asperger Syndrome or high-functioning autism for over 10 years. Now the CLASS clinic has a dedicated home. The clinic will move to the new Autism Centre in September 2013.



Autism affects different parts of the brain in women and men

New research sheds light on previously under-researched area of study – females with autism. Autism affects different parts of the brain in females with autism than males with autism, a new study reveals. The research is published in the journal Brain as an open-access article.



Do girls with anorexia nervosa have elevated autistic traits?

Patients with anorexia may have elevated autistic traits. In this study, we tested test whether patients with anorexia nervosa (anorexia) have an elevated score on a dimensional measure of autistic traits, the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ), as well as on trait measures relevant to the autism spectrum: the Empathy Quotient (EQ), and the Systemizing Quotient (SQ).



The Asperger Syndrome Student Project at the University of Cambridge, final report

The Asperger Syndrome Student Project at the University of Cambridge, funded initially from a grant from The Baily Thomas Charitable Trust, was a collaboration between the Disability Resource Centre (DRC) and Cambridge Lifespan Asperger Syndrome Service (CLASS), based at the Autism Research Centre (ARC).



Subgrouping the Autism Spectrum: Reflections on DSM-5

DSM-5 is now 'set in stone' and will be published in May 2013. Although this manual is primarily designed for creating a common language for clinical practice, it is also often used in research settings to define the conditions to be studied. Here we reflect on what the revision may mean for research, and for understanding the nature of autism.
Press release ...



Autism prevalence in China

Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) affect one per cent of the general population in Western countries. However, it is unclear as to whether autism is as prevalent in China. A pilot study conducted by the University of Cambridge’s Autism Research Centre and Cambridge Institute of Public Health suggests that autism in China is currently under-diagnosed and may be in line with Western countries at one per cent. This collaboration will enable Cambridge, CDPF and CUHK to determine whether a one per cent estimate also applies to China.



Foreword to Serbian translation of The Science of Evil

The following Foreword to ‘Zero Degrees of Empathy’ (‘The Science of Evil’) was invited by Dr Aleksandar Dimitrijevic, Department of Psychology, Belgrade University, Serbia. I am grateful to him for his careful translation of my book from English into Serbian.

I sent him the Foreword by email on June 2nd 2012 and heard nothing more. Evidently, the publisher, Clio, decided not to include it in my book – I assume because it refers to an uncomfortable period of Serbian history (1992-1995). Strangely, they put a Serbian translation of my Foreword on their blog at (link now broken) on the 24th April 2013.

PDF download: English Translation     Original Serbian foreword



TEDx talk at Parliament by Simon Baron-Cohen

The Erosion of Empathy: Video highlights on YouTube of Simon Baron-Cohen's presentation at TEDx, Houses of Parliament.



Simon Baron-Cohen presenting to Wired 2012 in London

A video of the presentation, exploring the idea that autism is linked to minds that are wired for science.



NIHR CLAHRC Quick Referral Guide for assessing possible ASC

Cambridge and Peterborough CLAHRC are developing Quick Referral Guides to help front line clinicians (GPs, Health Visitors, etc.,) in their decision about whether to refer a patient for a specialist assessment relating to possible ASC. More details here.

Briefing paper: Applied research in autism in the CLAHRC CP



The National Institute of Health Research (NIHR): Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC)

CLAHRC BITE - Red Flags for Autism Spectrum Condition.

The Red Flags tools could help frontline professionals decide whether to refer a person for specialist assessment.

CLAHRC BITE: Cambridge Lifespan Asperger Syndrome Service (CLASS)

A bite-sized summary of a piece of CLAHRC research.



NICE Guidelines for adults with autism: summary

The NICE Guidelines covering screening and diagnosis of and interventions for adults with autism spectrum conditions were announced on June 27th 2012. Simon Baron-Cohen, Director of the ARC, chaired the Guideline Development Group, made up of GPs, neurologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses, social workers, parents, people with autism, educators, and charity representatives, among others. They were supported by systematic reviewers and health economists. A summary of their recommendations is published in this article in the British Medical Journal. One of their recommendations is for GPs and other primary health workers to use the AQ-10 as a brief screener for adults suspected of autism, as an aid to deciding if the person needs a full diagnostic assessment.

BMJ article ...
Download AQ-10 Test ...
NICE guideline ...



German translation of The Transporters DVD

The Transporters DVD teaches young children with autism to recognize emotions. Developed and evaluated by the ARC in collaboration with Culture Online, it has just been translated into German by the University of Zurich.

Deutsch Webseite

English website


Third Neuroscience Conference

The ARC hosted its third neuroscience conference in Cambridge on 10th September 2010 .

The conference report and slides from the presentations are available here.


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