Simon Baron-Cohen

Simon Baron-Cohen
University of Cambridge | Cam · Autism Research Centre (ARC)

Phd MPhil

About

1,140
Publications
996,478
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
125,988
Citations
Citations since 2017
390 Research Items
54124 Citations
201720182019202020212022202302,0004,0006,0008,00010,000
201720182019202020212022202302,0004,0006,0008,00010,000
201720182019202020212022202302,0004,0006,0008,00010,000
201720182019202020212022202302,0004,0006,0008,00010,000

Publications

Publications (1,140)
Article
Full-text available
Recent research has highlighted a tendency for more rational and deliberative decision-making in individuals with autism. We tested this hypothesis by using eye-tracking to investigate the information processing strategies that underpin multi-attribute choice in a sample of adults diagnosed with autism spectrum condition. We found that, as the numb...
Article
The "Reading the Mind in the Eyes" Test (Eyes Test) is a widely used assessment of "theory of mind." The NIMH Research Domain Criteria recommends it as one of two tests for "understanding mental states." Previous studies have demonstrated an on-average female advantage on the Eyes Test. However, it is unknown whether this female advantage exists ac...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Autism spectrum disorder (autism) is a complex neurodevelopmental condition with pronounced behavioral, cognitive, and neural heterogeneities across individuals. Here, our goal was to characterize heterogeneity in autism by identifying patterns of neural diversity as reflected in BOLD fMRI in the way individuals with autism engage with...
Article
Full-text available
Most autistic people will never experience being arrested or charged with a crime, however for those who do tend to be less satisfied with the way they were treated. The purpose of this study was to find out if autistic people are being disadvantaged by the criminal justice system if they are arrested. Previous research has shown that autistic peop...
Preprint
Full-text available
Structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) quality is known to impact and bias neuroanatomical estimates and downstream analysis, including case-control comparisons. However, despite this, limited work has systematically evaluated the impact of image and image-processing quality on these measures, or compared different quality control (QC) methods...
Article
Full-text available
Theta oscillations (spectral power and connectivity) are sensitive to the social content of an experience in typically developing infants, providing a possible marker of early social brain development. Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition affecting early social behaviour, but links to underlying social brain function remain unclear. We explored...
Article
Objective: The male preponderance in prevalence of autism is among the most pronounced sex ratios across neurodevelopmental conditions. The authors sought to elucidate the relationship between autism and typical sex-differential neuroanatomy, cognition, and related gene expression. Methods: Using a novel deep learning framework trained to predic...
Article
Full-text available
Background Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) has been linked with a higher risk of suicide attempts in autistic and non-autistic people. In the general population, NSSI may confer acquired capability for suicide by eroding one’s fear and avoidance of pain and death. The present study aimed to explore acquired capability as the mediator of increased s...
Article
Full-text available
Background Difficulties in social communication are a defining clinical feature of autism. However, the underlying neurobiological heterogeneity has impeded targeted therapies and requires new approaches to identifying clinically relevant bio-behavioural subgroups. In the largest autism cohort to date, we comprehensively examined difficulties in fa...
Article
Lay abstract: Little is known about how autistic people experience pregnancy. We interviewed 24 autistic and 21 non-autistic women during pregnancy to find out about their experiences. Autistic participants had more physical difficulties, such as nausea and pain, during pregnancy than non-autistic participants. They also sometimes felt that health...
Article
Full-text available
Social cognition includes understanding the mental states (thoughts, feelings, intentions, desires, and beliefs) of others – so-called ‘theory of mind’ or ‘mindreading’. Recent studies have shown an impact of age and sex. Here, we applied the ‘Reading the Mind in the Eyes’ Test (RMET) that measures the ability to identify mental states from the eye...
Article
Full-text available
A significant proportion of the personal and economic burden of schizophrenia can be attributed to the late diagnosis or misdiagnosis of the disorder. A novel, objective diagnostic approaches could facilitate the early detection and treatment of schizophrenia and improve patient outcomes. In the present study, we aimed to identify robust schizophre...
Poster
Full-text available
Objectives: The Transporters is an animated series that teaches emotion recognition through stories depicting social interactions between characters that are all vehicles with real human faces grafted on them. It has been proved to be effective in improving emotion recognition skills in autistic children. Its automated, home-based format requires n...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Understanding how certain factors affect autism incidence can help to identify inequities in diagnostic access. We aimed to investigate the incidence of autism in England as a function of geography and sociodemographics, examining spatial distribution across health service boundaries. Methods: In this retrospective, longitudinal, sch...
Article
Full-text available
Qualitative studies of autistic people’s pregnancy experiences have indicated sensory and communication related barriers to accessing adequate prenatal healthcare. However, quantitative work on the topic is scarce. This online survey study explored pregnancy experiences among 417 autistic and 524 non-autistic people. Compared with non-autistic peop...
Preprint
Full-text available
Autistic adults experience more frequent suicidal thoughts and mental health difficulties than non-autistic people, but research has yet to explain how these experiences are connected. This study explored how anxiety and depression contribute to suicidal thoughts according to Interpersonal Theory of Suicide for autistic and non-autistic adults. Par...
Article
South‐Eastern Europe only recently was required to adapt their domestic law to adhere to European Union legislations and standards. As such, it forms an excellent case study on how and to what extent the ‘Europeanisation’ process is interacting with the development of special education needs (SEN) policy, particularly focusing on autistic children....
Article
Full-text available
Discriminating between similar figures proves to be a remarkably demanding task due to the limited capacity of our visual cognitive processes. Here we examine how perceptual inference and decision-making are modulated by differences arising from neurodiversity. A large sample of autistic (n = 140) and typical (n = 147) participants completed two fo...
Preprint
Full-text available
Our understanding of the genetic architecture of the human cerebral cortex is limited both in terms of the diversity of brain structural phenotypes and the anatomical granularity of their associations with genetic variants. Here, we conducted genome-wide association meta-analysis of 13 structural and diffusion magnetic resonance imaging derived cor...
Article
The Autism-Spectrum Quotient is a self-report scale, used to assess autistic traits. It was tested cross-culturally, and a short version was created to clinically refer adults for an autism assessment. This study aimed to examine the properties of the Hebrew version of the Autism-Spectrum Quotient and to create a short version suitable for Diagnost...
Article
Full-text available
Background Although many studies have explored atypicalities in gray and white matter (GM, WM) morphology of autism, most of them rely on unimodal analyses that do not benefit from the likelihood that different imaging modalities may reflect common neurobiology. We aimed to establish brain patterns of modalities that differentiate between autism an...
Article
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by difficulties in social communication, but also great heterogeneity. To offer individualized medicine approaches, we need to better target interventions by stratifying autistic people into subgroups with different biological profiles and/or prognoses. We sought to vali...
Article
Full-text available
An increasing number of large-scale multi-modal research initiatives has been conducted in the typically developing population, e.g. Dev. Cogn. Neur. 32:43-54, 2018; PLoS Med. 12(3):e1001779, 2015; Elam and Van Essen, Enc. Comp. Neur., 2013, as well as in psychiatric cohorts, e.g. Trans. Psych. 10(1):100, 2020; Mol. Psych. 19:659–667, 2014; Mol. Au...
Article
Full-text available
The ratio of index to ring finger (2D:4D) has been hypothesised to indicate prenatal androgen exposure, yet evidence for its validity is lacking. We report the first pre-registered study to investigate mothers’ early pregnancy sex hormone concentrations in relation to their children’s digit ratios measured at 18-22-month follow-up. Although the tes...
Article
Full-text available
A large body of research showed that autistic people have intact emotional (affective) empathy alongside reduced cognitive empathy. However, there are mixed findings and these call for a more subtle understanding of empathy in autism. Empathic disequilibrium refers to the imbalance between emotional and cognitive empathy and is associated with a hi...
Article
Full-text available
The cognitive representation of oneself is central to other sociocognitive processes, including relations with others. It is reflected in faster, more accurate processing of self-relevant information, a “self-prioritisation effect” (SPE) which is inconsistent across studies in autism. Across two tasks with autistic and non-autistic participants, we...
Article
Full-text available
Background Studying the neural processing of faces can illuminate the mechanisms of compromised social expertise in autism. To resolve a longstanding debate, we examined whether differences in configural face processing in autism are underpinned by quantitative differences in the activation of typical face processing pathways, or the recruitment of...
Article
Full-text available
Background Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a group of neurodevelopmental conditions associated with quantitative differences in cortical and subcortical brain morphometry. Qualitative assessment of brain morphology provides complementary information on the possible underlying neurobiology. Studies of neuroradiological findings in ASD have rendere...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: There is limited evidence about the cross-cultural validity of autistic symptoms in school-aged children in Brazil. Methods: We translated the Childhood Autism Spectrum Test scale to Brazilian Portuguese and performed factor analyses to investigate the factor structure of parent-reported autistic symptoms in a large sample (N = 8571)...
Article
Full-text available
Background Many empirical studies suggest that higher maternal age increases the likelihood of having an autistic child. However, little is known about factors that may explain this relationship or if higher maternal age is related to the number of autistic-like traits in offspring. One possibility is that mothers who have a higher number of autist...
Article
Full-text available
Assortative mating is a phenomenon in which romantic partners typically resemble each other at a level greater than chance. There is converging evidence that social behaviours are subject to assortative mating, though less is known regarding social cognition. Social functioning requires the ability to identify and understand the mental states of ot...
Article
Full-text available
The substantial phenotypic heterogeneity in autism limits our understanding of its genetic etiology. To address this gap, here we investigated genetic differences between autistic individuals ( n max = 12,893) based on core and associated features of autism, co-occurring developmental disabilities and sex. We conducted a comprehensive factor analys...
Article
Full-text available
Microdeletions at the 22q11.2 locus are associated with increased risk for schizophrenia. Recent work has demonstrated that antipsychotic naïve 22q11.2 carriers display elevated levels of dopamine synthesis capacity (DSC) as assessed by ¹⁸F-DOPA PET imaging. While this is consistent with a role for abnormal dopamine function in schizophrenia, it is...
Preprint
Autism and related neurodevelopmental traits are more prevalent in males. Placental complications are also more frequent in male pregnancies. It is unclear if sex differences in placental function can predict sex differences in autistic traits. To assess this, concentrations of angiogenesis-related markers, placental growth factor (PlGF) and solubl...
Article
Full-text available
Background Recent research suggests that autistic individuals have shorter lifespans and experience worse health (greater health burden) than non-autistic individuals. Small, qualitative studies suggest that autistic adults also experience poor self-reported healthcare quality. Methods An anonymized, cross-sectional, self-report questionnaire was...
Article
Full-text available
It has been hypothesised that romantic partners are more similar than chance in relation to autistic traits. To test this theory, we recruited n = 105 heterosexual couples and examined within-couple correlations for autistic traits [measured using the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ)], empathizing [measured using the Empathy Quotient (EQ)], and system...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background We aimed to assess whether autistic individuals were able to generalise across contexts when building statistical expectations of their environment to the same extent as non-autistic individuals. We did this by assessing the implicit awareness of statistical regularities in a sequence of naturalistic scene images in both autistic and non...
Preprint
Background We aimed to assess whether autistic individuals were able to generalise across contexts when building statistical expectations of their environment to the same extent as non-autistic individuals. We did this by assessing the implicit awareness of statistical regularities in a sequence of naturalistic scene images in both autistic and non...
Article
Full-text available
Theory of mind (ToM) is a central cognitive process of social cognition, with great importance in neuroscience and neuropsychiatric disorders. One method used to evaluate advanced ToM in adults is the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET), which despite being widely known in Peru, still lacks standardized and adequately validated measures for it...
Poster
Full-text available
Background: Recent evidence has shown distinct profiles of autistic features in females, including domains such as social communication, with a more relevant use of social attention (i.e., the tendency to look at other people and parts of the body expressing social cues) compared to autistic males. Establishing a link between social attention in fe...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Understanding the development of the neuronal circuitry underlying autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is critical to shed light into its etiology and for the development of treatment options. Resting state EEG provides a window into spontaneous local and long-range neuronal synchronization and has been investigated in many ASD studies, but...
Article
Full-text available
Background The cerebellum contains more than 50% of the brain neurons and is involved in social cognition. Cerebellar anatomical atypicalities have repeatedly been reported in individuals with autism. However, studies have yielded inconsistent findings, likely because of a lack of statistical power, and did not capture the clinical and neuroanatomi...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Social attention affords learning opportunities across development and may contribute to individual differences in developmental trajectories, such as between male and female individuals, and in neurodevelopmental conditions, such as autism. Methods: Using eye-tracking, we measured social attention in a large cohort of autistic (n =...
Preprint
Full-text available
Discriminating between similar scenes proves to be a remarkably demanding task due to the limited capacity of our visual cognitive processes. Here we examine how visual scene discrimination is modulated by perceptual differences arising from neurodiversity. A large sample of autistic (n = 140) and typical (n = 147) participants completed two visual...
Preprint
Full-text available
BACKGROUND Sensory atypicalities are particularly common in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Nevertheless, our knowledge about the divergence of the underlying somatosensory region and its association with ASD phenotype features is limited. METHODS We applied a data-driven approach to map the fine-grained variations in functional connectivity of t...
Article
Full-text available
Qualitative accounts indicate there are sensory and communication related barriers to adequate childbirth and postnatal healthcare for autistic people. However, little quantitative work has explored the topic. This online survey study explored childbirth and postnatal experiences among 384 autistic and 492 non-autistic people. Compared with non-aut...
Preprint
Full-text available
Discriminating between similar scenes proves to be a remarkably demanding task due to the limited capacity of our visual cognitive processes. Here we examine how visual scene discrimination is modulated by perceptual differences arising from neurodiversity. A large sample of autistic (n=140) and typical (n=147) participants completed two visual sce...
Article
Full-text available
Over the past few decades, neuroimaging has become a ubiquitous tool in basic research and clinical studies of the human brain. However, no reference standards currently exist to quantify individual differences in neuroimaging metrics over time, in contrast to growth charts for anthropometric traits such as height and weight ¹ . Here we assemble an...
Article
Full-text available
Maternal immune activation (MIA) is mediated by activation of inflammatory pathways resulting in increased levels of cytokines and chemokines that cross the placental and blood-brain barriers altering fetal neural development. Maternal viral infection is one of the most well-known causes for immune activation in pregnant women. MIA and immune abnor...
Article
Full-text available
Following publication of the original article [1], the authors reported missing information in the ‘Acknowledgements’ section. The corrected ‘Acknowledgements’ section reads: We thank our participants for their generosity in taking part in the present research and for their helpful feedback towards this and future research. We would like to thank t...
Article
Objective: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a lifelong neurodevelopmental condition that is associated with significant difficulties in adaptive behavior and variation in clinical outcomes across the life span. Some individuals with ASD improve, whereas others may not change significantly, or regress. Hence, the development of "personalized medic...
Article
Full-text available
Background While there are known risk factors for suicidality in autistic adults, these are often unconnected from theoretical frameworks that might explain why risk is elevated and guide clinical interventions. The present study investigated the relevance of constructs from the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide (ITS), including perceived burdensomen...
Preprint
Full-text available
Objectives The male preponderance in autism spectrum conditions (ASC) prevalence is among the most pronounced sex ratios across different neurodevelopmental conditions. Here, we aimed to elucidate the relationship between autism and typical sex-differential neuroanatomy, cognition, and related gene expression. Methods Using a novel deep learning f...
Article
Full-text available
Sensory differences between autism and neuro-typical populations are well-documented and have often been explained by either weak-central-coherence or excitation/inhibition-imbalance cortical theories. We tested these theories with perceptual multi-stability paradigms in which dissimilar images presented to each eye generate dynamic cyclopean perce...
Article
Full-text available
Oxytocin is hypothesized to promote social interactions by enhancing the salience of social stimuli. While previous neuroimaging studies have reported that oxytocin enhances amygdala activation to face stimuli in autistic men, effects in autistic women remain unclear. In this study, the influence of intranasal oxytocin on activation and functional...
Article
Full-text available
We investigate whether autistic people's vulnerability is taken into account at each stage of the criminal justice system (CJS). Defense lawyers from 12 nations were included in the study although the sample was predominantly from the UK. Lawyers completed an online survey regarding one case in which they had defended an autistic client between Jan...
Article
Full-text available
Recent data has revealed dissociations between social and non-social skills in both autistic and neurotypical populations. In the present study, we investigated whether specific visuospatial abilities, such as figure disembedding and mental rotation, are differently related to social and non-social autistic traits, in neurotypical women and men. Un...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background Although many studies have explored atypicalities in gray and white matter (GM, WM) morphology of autism, most of them rely on unimodal analyses that do not benefit from the likelihood that different imaging modalities may reflect common neurobiology. We aimed to establish multimodal brain patterns that differentiate between autism and t...
Article
Full-text available
Background Autism and autistic traits are risk factors for suicidal behaviour. Aims To explore the prevalence of autism (diagnosed and undiagnosed) in those who died by suicide, and identify risk factors for suicide in this group. Method Stage 1: 372 coroners’ inquest records, covering the period 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2017 from two region...
Article
Full-text available
Lay abstract: Autistic people can have difficulties during pregnancy and after giving birth, such as difficulty getting health care that meets their needs. Autistic people may therefore have lower well-being than non-autistic people during this time. We asked autistic and non-autistic people to fill in questionnaires measuring stress, depression,...
Article
Full-text available
Background Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is triggered by environmental stressors. Empathy may predispose an individual to respond to life events differently if high empathizers are emotionally more sensitive to trauma. For the first time, we test this hypothesis using genetic information. Methods We applied polygenic scoring (PGS) to invest...
Preprint
Full-text available
An increasing number of large-scale multi-modal research initiatives has been conducted in the typically developing population, as well as in psychiatric cohorts. Missing data is a common problem in such datasets due to the difficulty of assessing multiple measures on a large number of participants. The consequences of missing data accumulate when...