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 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 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 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.
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.
Individual differences in early language development, and in later language functioning, are associated with changes in the anatomy of the brain in autism.
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.
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 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 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 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
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. 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.
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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.
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.
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.
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, 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).
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 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.
Original Serbian foreword
The Erosion of Empathy: Video highlights on YouTube of Simon Baron-Cohen's presentation at TEDx, Houses of Parliament.
A video of the presentation, exploring the idea that autism is linked to minds that are wired for science.
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
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.
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 ...
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.
The ARC hosted its third neuroscience conference in Cambridge on 10th September 2010 .
The conference report and slides from the presentations are available here.