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The autistic mind in the light of neuropsychological studies

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The underlying causes of autism spectrum disorders have not yet been identified. There is a group of theories which attempt to explain the source of difficulties experienced by people with these disorders through neurocognitive deficits. The most popular among them refer to deficits in theory of mind, executive dysfunction and weak central coherence. The results of over 20 years of research show that although these deficits may at least partially explain variations in the course of social development, communication difficulties and the formation of rigid patterns of behavior and interests in individuals with autism, none of them is sufficient on its own to comprehensively explain the complex picture of autistic disorders. Information about the neurobiological correlates of these deficits complement our knowledge about their mutual relationships by showing that multiple neural networks are involved in the emergence of autism’s signs and symptoms. Further investigation of various aspects of these cognitive deficits and the relationships between them may significantly improve our understanding of processes involved in the development of autism.
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