Thoughts About: Aspergers

Intense World Theory

A new Unified Theory of Autism Spectrum Disorders
A diagram of Intense World Theory, Markram et al. 2010.
Click to enlarge.

Here's an article from the husband (Henry} and wife (Kamila) team, the Markrams, about their new theory about autsm spectrum disorders. It's based on a combination of emprical evidence gleaned using a rat model of autism and also through the examination of data from earlier studies in light of the new theory. This article takes the form of a literature review of the subject. They first published the idea in 2007, in a technical peer review article about the experiments with the rat model.

The theory suggests that the autistic brain is actually hyper active at the very small scale of the neurologic microciruit, which causes everyday stimuli to become overwhelmingly intense. Different regions of the brain may be affected in different individuals. Along with the overactive signalling comes hyper memory (ie learning),hyper sensitivity to certain stimuli, hyper emotive responses, and an inflated fear/anxiety response, which is not inhibited in a compensatory manner. As austistic individuals find components of the world overwhelmingly stressful or fear-proviking, they withdraw increasingly. They argue that the cause of autism is complex and involves a combination of genetic predisposition and very specifically timed insults to the fetus. The theory accounts for the range and developmental course of behaviors in autistic individuals more so than any other theory.

From my experience, working under and Aspergers/HFA diagnosis, the theory much more accurately characterises my experience. I believe that a more accurate and unified theory of autism will help behavioral therapists develop more effective treatments and preventitive measures that help individuals with autistic characteristics function in a way that is more comfortable and productive. Here's a nice lay article if the technical one is baffling. Linkage.

Intense World Theory PDF

Posted on 01/13/12 _________________________________________________________________________________________________