Autistic Kids Have 'supercharged Brains'

by VR Sreeraman on Sep 20 2008 2:22 PM

Autistic kids have "supercharged" brains that are so clever that they make everyday experiences utterly overwhelming, a groundbreaking research claims.

According to Swiss neuroscientists' theory, autism is not caused by a brain deficiency.

But by a system overload which causes the world to seem frightening and overly intense.

Real-life married couple Kamila and Henry Markram of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne believe that the idea could explain the erratic nature of the condition.

"Our hypothesis is that autistic people perceive, feel and remember too much," Telegraph Kamila Markram, as telling the New Scientist.

Kamila added that facing the "intense world" makes autistic infants withdraw, with serious consequences for their social and linguistic development.

Repetitive behaviours such as rocking and head banging, meanwhile, can be seen as an attempt to bring order and predictability to a "blaring world".

Most of the theories surrounding autism involve the idea of an underperforming brain but the Markrams believe the opposite is true with the brain being "supercharged".

Their research, which included studying their own son who is borderline autistic, is backed up by one of the most replicated findings in autism, which is abnormal brain growth.

At birth the brains of autistic children are small or normal sized, but grow unusually quickly.

The Markrams believe that autistic children suffer from "hypermemory" which lock them into certain compulsive routines and develop their savant skills.

"They build very strong memories," said Mrs Markram.

"So strong that you establish a routine that you can't undo: you are stuck on a track," she added.