Monday, November 24, 2008

Badcock on Edge: the imprinted gene theory of ASD/ PSD

This edition of Edge features an article by Christopher Badcock, about the imprinted gene theory of Autism Spectrum disorders and the psychotic spectrum disorders that he has been developing with Crespi.  It is a must read and has been very nicely done.

He goes on to list the differences between autism and psychosis in a tabular form and then extends this to list the differences between mentalistic and mechansitic cognitions.

Autism/Asperger's syndromePsychosis/Paranoid schizophrenia
gaze-monitoring deficitsdelusions of being watched/spied on
apparent deafness/insensitivity to voiceshallucination of and hyper-sensitivity to voices
deficits in interpreting others' intentionserotomania/delusions of persecution
deficits in appreciating shared-attention/groupsdelusions of conspiracy
theory of mind deficitsmagical ideation/delusions of reference
deficit in sense of personal agency/episodic memorymegalomania/delusions of grandeur
literalness/inability to deceivedelusional self-deception
pathological single-mindednesspathological ambivalence
early onsetlate onset

Mentalistic CognitionMechanistic Cognition
psychological interaction with self and othersphysical interaction with nature and objects
uses social, psychological, and political skillsuses mechanical, spatial, and engineering skills
deficits in autism, augmented in womenaccentuated in autism, augmented in men
voluntaristic, subjective, particularisticdeterministic, objective, universal
abstract, general, ambivalentconcrete, specific, single-minded
verbal, metaphoric, conformistvisual, literal, eccentric
top-down, holistic, centrally-coherentbottom-up, reductionistic, field-independent
epitomized in literature, politics, and religionepitomized in science, engineering, and technology
‘pseudo-science': astrology, alchemy, creationism‘hard science': astronomy, chemistry, Darwinism
nurtured: culturally- and personally-determinednatural: factually- and genetically-determined
belief-based therapies: placebos, faith-healing, psychotherapy etc.physical effect-based therapies: drugs, surgery, physiotherapy, etc.

He lists down some of the other arguments that I have made viz the fact that Valproic acid exposure in childhood/ pregnancy causes Autism, while valproic acid is used for treating psychosis. Overall it is a very interesting read and a must read.

He also tries to address the mCDD (or simultaneous occurence of Autism and Schizophrenia) in his article, though I find that part the least convincing. Here is what he has to say:

The model appears to rule out anyone suffering from an ASD and a PSD simultaneously, and such co-morbidity does appear to be rare—but is not unknown. However, I know of cases of individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder who also show unmistakable signs of ASD during their non-manic phases. Indeed, I have research on one individual who suffers from severe gaze-aversion, autistic deficits in a sense of self and social anxiety most of the time, but who becomes comfortable with other people during manic episodes when his sense of self hypertrophies into megalomania with the feeling that he is the returned Jesus Christ! Furthermore, there is evidence of both ASD and PSD in Newton and Beethoven, and incontrovertibly so in the Nobel-prize winning mathematician John Nash. Here the theory predicts that the ASD must come first (typically in childhood) and leave a permanent savant-like basis later built on by hyper-mentalistic tendencies to produce an unusually broadened and dynamically-balanced cognitive configuration: that of true genius.

I find this fascinating and agree with Badcock that the theory leads to many predictions and all these are testable; so we are witnessing a new paradigmatic shift in our understanding of these neurodevelopmental disorders and further experiments would definitely lend more credence to this theory in my view.

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1 comment:

Opus Maximum said...

I've got a neat commentary on this ingenious theory up at 3QuarksDaily: