TED Conversations

Theodore A. Hoppe


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Is autism, or some types of autism, an evolutionary effect.

This is an uninformed notion I have had, and this is the first time I have found support for it.
Toward the end of this TED talk Enriquez provides some numbers on the rate at which autism has increased in a decade, 78%.

He says, "We are trying to take in as much information in a day as people use to take in in a lifetime."
Is autism a rapid evolution of the brain?

Topics: autism evolution

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  • Jun 17 2012: Autism and other syndromes are diagnosed based on a series of conditions so as difficult as it is to specifically define, it is as difficult to give a cause or track an increase.  The 11% increase best measures an increase in diagnosis. It's entirely possible that the incidence of these conditions have not increased but simply went undiagnosed in the past.  That being said I can't imagine that we aren't currently evolving.  Autism alone won't indicate our evolution nor will the insignificant mutations found  in some Olympic athletes or blue eyes. This small genetic difference doesn't make us different enough to fulfill the technical definition of being a different species and although there is such a small genectic deviation between humans and the other great apes, chimps and humans are different in a way a person with blue eyes and a person with brown eyes are not. The most curious detail of the Juan Enriquez TED Talk that brought me to this discussion is that unlike the several co-existing species of other life on this planet and evidence of co-existing multiple human species in the past, why now is there only one?  One originating in Africa that migrated throughout the world? Also currently Africa remains the most genetic diverse population of humans? So if we're evolving, we're evolving there.  Is our evolution like our single species status, a natural anomaly? Is our evolution aided by there being only one species, making us biologically more tenacious to survive? Or did consciousness which brought awareness of differences bring volatile interactions between the multiple human species very like much like current racism and genocide leaving only one species standing?  It would seem that consciousness is a significant cognitive evolution, so yes, the discussion of mental evolution is most motivating.  It must be occurring as the pattern of evolution seems a ceaseless aspect of life. Will the leap of the next evolution of humans result is the gap of communication?

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