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Paul Bloch's picture

Disabled in one aspect and very able in another: Autistic Brains

Reading about one who is disabled in one aspect and very able in another made me think of people with Autism. Autistic individuals have social deficits that interfere greatly with daily life.
However, studies have shown great abilities of autistic individuals that average non-affected individuals lack.
See the book review of "Bright Splinters of the Mind" by Beate Hermelin:
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/sci;293/5529/435

"Perhaps the best example of this reliance on memory for noncentral components is the capacity of a musician with autism to reproduce faithfully both the melody and the harmonic chords in a piece of piano music. A skilled musician without autism was able to reconstruct some of the melody but was utterly unable to retain the harmony in this same piece of music."

I think it is amazing how one's neuronal arrangement could render one disabled in one aspect and brilliant in another. So this brings me to my questions: Are autistic brains broken? It seems like the general thought is that despite the special talents, autistic brains are severely disabled in our culture. I'm curious to see what others' thoughts are.

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