Autism may have played important role in humanís hunter-gatherer past



Washington, June 6: A study has found that people with autism may have been capable hunter-gatherers in prehistoric times.


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

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

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 looked at how autism's strengths may have played a role in evolution.

Reser said individuals on the autism spectrum would have had the mental tools to be self-sufficient foragers in environments marked by diminished social contact.

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

The paper has been published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology in May.


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