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February 8, 2017

A New Link Between Autism and Masculinity

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, University of California, Irvine
JAMA Psychiatry. 2017;74(4):318. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.4066

One might expect that for a brain disorder such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which affects 4 to 5 times as many members of one sex than the other, investigators would routinely have focused on understanding the reasons underlying such an enormous discrepancy, and on what that discrepancy is trying to teach us about the nature of the disorder. Unfortunately, as for all of medicine outside reproductive function, to date, ASD investigators have overwhelmingly ignored sex influences. The reasons for this state of affairs are multiple, and discussed elsewhere.1 Fortunately, the times are changing. Increasingly investigators recognize sex influences as fundamental to understanding both normal and abnormal brain function. The report in this issue of JAMA Psychiatry by Ecker et al2 represents an important new step in this direction, especially as it concerns ASD.

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