Monday, December 27, 2010

Amygdala / psychopath theory of autism not travelling well at all

So sorry Professor Baron-Cohen, here is evidence that the amygdalas of autistic people work just fine, "at the perceptual level". And it appears that autists aren't emotion-blind psychopaths either. As the year comes to a completion and dies, so does another grand theory of autism. Let's hope that 2011 brings a better theoretical framework. And I believe in miracles too.

Eve-Marie Quintin • Anjali Bhatara •
He´le`ne Poissant • Eric Fombonne • Daniel J. Levitin

Emotion Perception in Music in High-Functioning Adolescents
With Autism Spectrum Disorders

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
DOI 10.1007/s10803-010-1146-0

Published online: 22 December 2010

"The ability to recognize musical emotion as belonging to one of four categories(happy, sad, scared or peaceful) was assessed in high-functioning adolescents with ASD (N = 26) and adolescents with typical development (TD, N = 26) with comparable performance IQ, auditory working memory, and musical training and experience. When verbal IQ was controlled for, there was no significant effect of diagnostic group. Adolescents with ASD rated the intensity of the emotions similarly to adolescents with TD and reported greater confidence in their responses when they had correctly (vs. incorrectly) recognized the emotions."

"Thus, emotion recognition in music among individuals with ASD differs from that in patients with damage to the amygdala, in the sense that individuals with ASD can recognize some musical emotions that patients with damage to the amygdala cannot recognize such as scary and peaceful music. This observation, combined with the lack of group difference for ratings of emotional intensity, cannot be reconciled with the amygdala theory of autism at the perceptual level.
Emotion perception in music in ASD does not seem out of norms."


Anonymous said...

it still involves the amygdala. but not in the same fashion but with very, very similar effects.

Their roots are close, psychopath and autism.

Lili Marlene said...

I've read about studies that found that the amygdalas of autists are abnormally large, and I've also read about studies that have found that the amygdalas of autists are unusually small. This alone is surely enough to discredit this whole area of research.

One only needs to browse journal articles investigating the supposed causes of autism to see how corrupt research can become when funding favours certain conclusions. It is easy to find conclusions and paper titles that contradict findings, and wildly conflicting findings between studies.