Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Autism may have had advantages in humans' hunter-gatherer past, researcher believes

Date:
June 3, 2011
Source:
University of Southern California
Summary:
Though people with autism face many challenges because of their condition, they may have been capable hunter-gatherers in prehistoric times, according to a new paper.

Though people with autism face many challenges because of their condition, they may have been capable hunter-gatherers in prehistoric times, according to a paper published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology in May.

The autism spectrum may represent not disease, but an ancient way of life for a minority of ancestral humans, said Jared Reser, a brain science researcher and doctoral candidate in the USC Psychology Department.

Some of the genes that contribute to autism may have been selected and maintained because they created beneficial behaviors in a solitary environment, amounting to an autism advantage, Reser said.

The "autism advantage," a relatively new perspective, contends that sometimes autism has compensating benefits, including increased abilities for spatial intelligence, concentration and memory. Although individuals with autism have trouble with social cognition, their other cognitive abilities are sometimes largely intact.

The paper looks at how autism's strengths may have played a role in evolution. Individuals on the autism spectrum would have had the mental tools to be self-sufficient foragers in environments marked by diminished social contact, Reser said.

The penchant for obsessive, repetitive activities would have been focused by hunger and thirst towards the learning and refinement of hunting and gathering skills.

Today autistic children are fed by their parents so hunger does not guide their interests and activities. Because they can obtain food free of effort, their interests are redirected toward nonsocial activities, such as stacking blocks, flipping light switches or collecting bottle tops, Reser said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southern California. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jared Edward Reser. Conceptualizing the autism spectrum in terms of natural selection and behavioral ecology: The solitary forager hypothesis. Evolutionary Psychology, 2011; 9 (2): 207-238 [link]

Cite This Page:

University of Southern California. "Autism may have had advantages in humans' hunter-gatherer past, researcher believes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110603122849.htm>.
University of Southern California. (2011, June 3). Autism may have had advantages in humans' hunter-gatherer past, researcher believes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110603122849.htm
University of Southern California. "Autism may have had advantages in humans' hunter-gatherer past, researcher believes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110603122849.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) Breeze, a portable breathalyzer, gets you home safely by instantly showing your blood alcohol content, and with one tap, lets you call an Uber, a cab or a friend from your contact list to pick you up. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A study suggests that parents become desensitized to violent movies as well as children, which leads them to allow their kids to view violent films. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins