A study published in the Journal of Brain, suggests that autism affects males and females differently.
Researchers from the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge, used magnetic resonance imaging to study how autism affects the brain of males and females. Tissue volume is greater in males than females, the research said.
The researchers looked at 120 brains of both sexes, including those without autism, concluding that not “everything found in males with autism applies to females’.
The study dubbed: “Biological sex affects the neurobiology of autism,” said since autism was first recognised, males with the health problems have disproportionately skewed research.
It noted that females with autism have been relatively overlooked, and have generally been assumed to have the same underlying neurobiology as males.
It said growing evidence suggests that it is an oversimplification that risks obscure the biological base of autism.
The study seeks to answer two questions about how autism is modulated by biological sex at the level of the brain.
The questions are: “Is the neuroanatomy of autism different in males and females? And does the neuroanatomy of autism fit predictions from the extreme male brain theory of autism, in males and or in females?
Neuroanatomical features derived from voxel-based morphometry were compared in a sample of equal-sized high-functioning male and female adults with and without autism.
While autism affects one per cent of the general population, it is more prevalent in men; and because of this, most studies have concentrated on male-dominant samples, leading to a gender bias in the understanding of autism-related neuroscience.
The study found out that the neuroanatomy of autism differed between adult males and females, evidenced by minimal spatial overlap.
This, is not different from that occurred under random condition in both grey and white matter.
The findings suggest that one should not blindly assume that everything found in males with autism applies to females.
It said future research should stratify by biological sex to reduce heterogeneity and to provide greater insight into the neurobiology of autism.