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J Autism Dev Disord. 2010 Jan;40(1):1-7. doi: 10.1007/s10803-009-0815-3. Epub 2009 Jul 25.

The relationship between systemising and mental rotation and the implications for the extreme male brain theory of autism.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Bath, Bath BA27AY, UK.


Within the Extreme Male Brain theory, Autism Spectrum Disorder is characterised as a deficit in empathising in conjunction with preserved or enhanced systemising. A male advantage in systemising is argued to underpin the traditional male advantage in mental rotation tasks. Mental rotation tasks can be separated into rotational and non-rotational components, and circulating testosterone has been found to consistently relate to the latter component. Systemising was found to correlate with mental rotation, specifically the non-rotational component(s) of the mental rotation task but not the rotational component of the task. Systemising also correlated with a proxy for circulating testosterone but not a proxy for prenatal testosterone. A sex difference was identified in systemising and the non-rotational aspect of the mental rotation task.

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