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The Extreme Male Brain Theory of Autism: The Role of Fetal Androgens 

The Extreme Male Brain Theory of Autism: The Role of Fetal Androgens

Chapter:
The Extreme Male Brain Theory of Autism: The Role of Fetal Androgens
Author(s):

Simon Baron-Cohen

, Bonnie Auyeung

, Emma Ashwin

, Rebecca Knickmeyer

, Michael Lombardo

, and Bhismadev Chakrabarti

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780195371826.003.0062
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date: 26 March 2017

The higher incidence of autism in male individuals might provide important clues to the etiology of the condition, which has been described as an “extreme of the male brain.” This chapter reviews studies indicating that prenatal testosterone could be involved in the sex differences in key areas of behavior in the general population (social development, language development, empathy, systemizing, and attention to detail) and to the male vulnerability to autism. These studies suggest that variations in fetal testosterone are related to individual differences in cognition and behavior in typically developing children, but caution needs to be taken when extrapolating these results to individuals with autism.

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