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Study Shows Autistic Traits Behind Revolution in Ice Age Art

The ability to focus on detail, a common trait among people with autism, allowed realistic art to flourish 30,000 years ago during the ice age, according to researchers. Ice age ancestors have created exceptionally realistic art including the extremely accurate depictions of bears, bison, horses, and lions.

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Mammoth Cave National Park preserves the cave system and a part of the Green River valley and hilly country of south central Kentucky. This is the world's longest cave system, with more than 365 miles explored. Image: Wikimedia Commons
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The ability to focus on detail, a common trait among people with autism, allowed realistic art to flourish 30,000 years ago during the ice age, according to researchers.

Ice age ancestors have created exceptionally realistic art including the extremely accurate depictions of bears, bison, horses and lions.

Autistic Child lighting a candle
Autistic Child lighting a candle, pixabay

While many have argued that psychotropic drugs were behind the detailed illustrations, the new study argued instead that individuals with “detail focus” — a trait linked to autism, kicked off an artistic movement that led to the proliferation of realistic cave drawings across Europe.

“Detail focus is what determines whether you can draw realistically; you need it in order to be a talented realistic artist. This trait is found very commonly in people with autism and rarely occurs in people without it,” said lead author Penny Spikins from Britain’s University of York.

“We looked at the evidence from studies attempting to identify a link between artistic talent and drug use and found that drugs can only serve to disinhibit individuals with a pre-existing ability. The idea that people with a high degree of detail focus, many of which may have had autism, set a trend for extreme realism in ice age art is a more convincing explanation,” Spikins added.

The research adds to a growing body of evidence that people with autistic traits played an important role in human evolution.

Art Therapy for Autistic Children
Art Therapy for Autistic Children, pixabay

“Individuals with this trait — both those who would be diagnosed with autism in the modern day and those that wouldn’t — likely played an important part in human evolution and survival as we colonized Europe,” Spikins said.

Also Read: New Study Shows That Binaries From Globular Clusters Can be Detected by LISA

Besides, contributing to early culture, people with the attention to detail would also have had the focus to create complex tools from materials such as bone, rock and wood, the study showed.

“These skills became increasingly important in enabling us to adapt to the harsh environments we encountered in Europe,” Spikins noted. (IANS)

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Gene Responsible For Autism Identified

Many neurodevelopmental disorders are caused by large missing pieces of genetic material in a person's genome that contains several genes, termed a "microdeletion"

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Autism: A Neurological Disease. Image Source: www.americanhealthreview.com
  • Scientists found the gene responsible for Autism
  • The study reveals a lot about other complex brain disorders
  • The study can be used to find some cure for autism

Scientists, including one of Indian-origin, have identified a gene that is responsible for neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism, an advance that may pave the way for developing treatments.

The findings showed that alterations of the gene thousand and one amino-acid kinase 2, known as TAOK2, plays a direct role in these disorders.

Gene responsible for autism found. VOA
Gene responsible for autism found. VOA

TAOK2 is located in the autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia-associated chromosomal deletion region and is associated with other neurodevelopmental phenotypes.

Many neurodevelopmental disorders are caused by large missing pieces of genetic material in a person’s genome that contain several genes, termed a “microdeletion”.

Accurately diagnosing a gene microdeletion helps doctors to predict patient outcome and to determine if a new treatment is available, the study showed.

Also Read: Wearable Technology Google Glass Teaches Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

“Our studies reveal that in complex brain disorders that have a loss of many genes, a single deleted gene is sufficient to cause symptoms for the patients,” said Karun Singh, assistant professor at McMaster University in Canada.

“This is exciting because it focuses our research effort on the individual gene, saving us time and money as it will speed up the development of targeted therapeutics to this gene alone,” Singh added.

In the study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, the team used genetically engineered models and computer algorithms to study a human genome, which allowed them to pinpoint the single gene in question.

Research can be used to benefit children suffering from autism. www.autismepicenter.com
Research can be used to benefit children suffering from autism. www.autismepicenter.com

The results revealed that alterations in TAOK2 activity contribute to neurodevelopmental disorders. TAOK2 KO mice showed several behavioural, anatomical and synaptic deficits consistent with other autistic mouse models.

Moreover, the team also identified and characterised novel mutations in TAOK2 in human autism cohorts revealing that the mutations impact different signalling pathways.

Also Read: Bacterial infection in pregnancy may up autism risk in kids

“Our next step is to screen candidate drugs that correct the cognitive brain deficits caused by genetic mutations in TAOK2, and identify candidates for pilot clinical trials,” Singh said. IANS

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