TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

Is autism the result of human brains moving to the next step of neural connectivity? Is this evolution in action?

While watching the 60 Minutes show on the remarkable intellect of a young man who was, for a time, treated as autistic, I was struck with the idea that maybe the current epidemic of autism is due to selective breeding. Humans have evolved with a unique brain mass and neural connections that give them an intellect beyond that of other primates. To achieve our brains, there have no doubt been many instances of trial and error where greater intellect was selected for, and mistakes selected against.

Just as two tall people tend to have tall children, intelligent parents can have intelligent children. That intelligence can be considered to be both hard wired as well as acquired. Maybe the children of smart people with complex neural networks possess new nervous connections, pushing the evolution of the brain. The "mistakes" may be children for whom the nervous connections are not fortuitous while the new nervous connections that are good can create a child with a remarkable intellect....much like the profile on 60 Minutes.

Evolution means species are never static...this may be such an example.


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Jan 23 2012: What level do you speak of? and....more spelling mistakes (*data and then a couple others)

    Causation does not always give an effect. Was the big bang the beginning of the universe or was it just a white hole caused by a black hole? Most science including the holographic universe is based upon observation and patterns as well as correlation. Oh and, it's not =O, it's an emoticon with =o) to show happiness.

    Evolution = survival rate, variations, etc...how does the human species survive? Technology. The neurotypicals and the aspies work together but the aspies are quite something and are an evolutionary step, without a doubt. Negative = some parents who both have aspergers syndrome at high or low functioning levels end up with autistic children who cannot fend for themselves....That's the only non-evolutionary piece of the puzzle I see but then again, variation does exist, for the human genome during conception equates to 40-60 new mutations in a newborn human.

    Anyway, don't be rude -- I will be reporting you very quickly.

    The biggest pieces in science are:
    - Correlations based upon multiple variables/MVT as well as machine learning connected to that which quantum computation only augments past what is given with Hadoop/Mapreduce algos, etc.
    - Thought experiments turning into mathematical formulae
    - Causation without external influences / controlled experiments whether non-blind, single-blind or double-blind studies
    - Observations and assumptions followed by theories of the observed and unobserved which dovetails with thought experiments
    - And, the most beloved....What If?....The crowning achievement in scientific and technological progress and the center of why we all have such passion and conviction.
    • Jan 23 2012: "It does not seem as though it is a syndrome, if kept in check and there IS a scale. Feel free to have a conversational debate with me (just be sure you are on the *same level* playing field as me, for I can overwhelm you with data in a VERY short period of time" This is the level I was referring to. Why can't you click reply?

      The big bang theory is just a world accepted theory and it can be wrong. It is not just correlation. A =O is the same as a =o) in the sense they are emotions that are not needed to convey a point. We are not talking about the benefits of having Aspergers. You need to actually have data to prove to me it is an actual evolutionary step. You know an increase over time of the condition and the adverse effects of the condition lessening over time with data verifying it.

      I should probably report you. "Don't be so emotional" which is basically mocking me. The faces is another thing that appears to mock me.

      "Zared...do you have anything better to do, my friend? Causation is a means to an end and not everything has a cause and effect. Geek syndrome is generalized but look at the lists of people who had Aspergers Syndrome in the past. End of discussion." is just a rude paragraph.

      Passion and conviction go hand to hand, but conviction is the key to true science and passion is just the way to obtain this key.
      • Jan 24 2012: Very well put in the last sentence, the rest....stick with your crowdsourcing ideas
    • thumb
      Jan 24 2012: I love meetings of the minds that truly sort out who's got the keener sense of intellect. And in true "survival of the fittest" fashion I award points to Miles for the cooler temperament and encourage him to continue expressing insightful verdicts on the human condition. I do actually agree more with you Miles. We can look at this objectively and point out advantages and disadvantages. Sometimes even the seemingly mistaken paths that mother nature takes fit in perfectly with the big picture. Maybe we as a species can't do anything right now to dramatically change the course of our evolution but one day technology will probably breech the gaps. I can't wait to hear more about this, but I hope it's not too far above my reading comprehension.

      (*v*) (fatheaded emotionless emoticon) (or is it the ever-wise night-visioned pointy-beaked owl emoticon)?
      • Jan 25 2012: lol it's more on the level of being happy / being kind of unknowing -- my Thai gf uses the ^^^ (*v*) ^^^ emoticon for happy lol although I can't really follow hers. Feel free to message me and yes -- TED is ALL about meeting of the minds.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.