Research shows autism may have had advantages...

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aspi-rant
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12 Jun 2011, 2:22 pm

no clue if i should post it here...

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Research shows autism may have had advantages for Hunter-Gatherers

Tuesday, June 7, 2011 | News

Though people with autism face many challenges because of their condition, they may have been capable hunter-gatherers in prehistoric times, according to a paper published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology in May.

The autism spectrum may represent not disease, but an ancient way of life for a minority of ancestral humans, said Jared Reser, a brain science researcher and doctoral candidate in the USC Psychology Department.

Some of the genes that contribute to autism may have been selected and maintained because they created beneficial behaviours in a solitary environment, amounting to an autism advantage, Reser said.

The “autism advantage,” a relatively new perspective, contends that sometimes autism has compensating benefits, including increased abilities for spatial intelligence, concentration and memory. Although individuals with autism have trouble with social cognition, their other cognitive abilities are sometimes largely intact.

The paper looks at how autism’s strengths may have played a role in evolution. Individuals on the autism spectrum would have had the mental tools to be self-sufficient foragers in environments marked by diminished social contact, Reser said.

The penchant for obsessive, repetitive activities would have been focused by hunger and thirst towards the learning and refinement of hunting and gathering skills.

Today autistic children are fed by their parents so hunger does not guide their interests and activities. Because they can obtain food free of effort, their interests are redirected toward non-social activities, such as stacking blocks, flipping light switches or collecting bottle tops, Reser said.

“Conceptualizing the Autism Spectrum in Terms of Natural Selection & Behavioral Ecology: The solitary forager hypothesis,” is available at: http://www.epjournal.net/filestore/EP09207238.pdf


source: http://www.pasthorizons.com/index.php/a ... -gatherers


comments can also be written at the source site...



pandabear
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12 Jun 2011, 8:32 pm

Thanks for the interesting article.



mb1984
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12 Jun 2011, 8:57 pm

Yes, thanks for the article. I had read something else on this lately. Survivalism is one of my husband and my special interests...perhaps it's in our genes.


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Rocky
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12 Jun 2011, 11:10 pm

mb1984 wrote:
Yes, thanks for the article. I had read something else on this lately. Survivalism is one of my husband and my special interests...perhaps it's in our genes.


In the 1970's when I was attending High School, one of my interests was foraging wild edible plants guided by the writings of Euell Gibbons. I lived in the suburbs and sought out patches of natural areas for this purpose. I didn't really have opportunities for hunting and fishing. If i lived further away from civilization, I might have done so. The ability to detect patterns may help in the recognition of leaves to differentiate the edible plants from poison ones. I believe aspies are often thought to have enhanced talent for pattern recognition. This talent is mentioned in Elizabeth Moon's excellent novel "Speed of Dark." My wife (who also has AS traits) is particularly talented and knowledgeable in the area of wild plant recognition. She also had this interest even before we met.


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aghogday
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12 Jun 2011, 11:58 pm

The theory hypothesizes that solitary foraging would have been a common phenomenon when resources where short and it would have been an evolutionary advantage, if those that did the solitary foraging had traits of autism.

Unfortunately, there is no evidence in the archaelogical record to support the solitary foraging hypothesis; on the same website there is another study done by anthropologists that highlights the evolutionary advantage of cooperation among groups of prehistoric hunters and gatherers. The author of the this article has some interesting ideas, but there is no archaelogical evidence to back them up.

The same article has been discussed on a couple of other threads here in the last week.

It is more likely that some people with Autism as well as the rest of the general population may share some gene variants of the ancestoral genes of prehistoric hunters and gatherers, but no evidence that supports that prehistoric hunters and gatherers had Autistic traits.

That has also been discussed in a couple of threads here in the last couple of weeks.

There are primitive groups of hunters and gatherers spread throughout the world, and no studies that I know of that indicate Autism is an advantage in those cultures. In fact there is work being done now to help provide the same kind of support for Autistic children that they receive throughout the world, in modern Aboriginal Culture.

If there isn't a proven advantage in hunter gatherer societies in the present day, I'm not sure how one would hope to prove it in prehistoric hunter and gatherer societies.



Rocky
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13 Jun 2011, 3:40 am

aghogday wrote:
The theory hypothesizes that solitary foraging would have been a common phenomenon when resources where short and it would have been an evolutionary advantage, if those that did the solitary foraging had traits of autism.

Unfortunately, there is no evidence in the archaelogical record to support the solitary foraging hypothesis; on the same website there is another study done by anthropologists that highlights the evolutionary advantage of cooperation among groups of prehistoric hunters and gatherers. The author of the this article has some interesting ideas, but there is no archaelogical evidence to back them up.

The same article has been discussed on a couple of other threads here in the last week.

It is more likely that some people with Autism as well as the rest of the general population may share some gene variants of the ancestoral genes of prehistoric hunters and gatherers, but no evidence that supports that prehistoric hunters and gatherers had Autistic traits.

That has also been discussed in a couple of threads here in the last couple of weeks.

There are primitive groups of hunters and gatherers spread throughout the world, and no studies that I know of that indicate Autism is an advantage in those cultures. In fact there is work being done now to help provide the same kind of support for Autistic children that they receive throughout the world, in modern Aboriginal Culture.

If there isn't a proven advantage in hunter gatherer societies in the present day, I'm not sure how one would hope to prove it in prehistoric hunter and gatherer societies.


I haven't seen those threads. Could you post a link?

Our relatively recent history includes solitary trappers in the American west, for example. Would an interplanetary archaeologist far into the future be likely to find evidence of them from the fossil (and artifact) evidence?

It seems to me that in a hunter gatherer culture, that any solitary individuals could do their hunting and gathering on their own. There may not be any evolutionary advantage, but it should be possible, nevertheless. Not that it would be common, necessarily.


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aghogday
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13 Jun 2011, 3:23 pm

http://www.wrongplanet.net/postt163462.html
http://www.wrongplanet.net/postt163789.html

As recently discussed in the other posts, about 50 percent of the country are introverts and about 50 percent of the country are extroverts, of which genetics plays a part. An autism Diagnosis is close to 1 percent of that population, some state that a broad autism phenotype is about 10 percent of the population. Neurodiversity goes throughout the whole population, extremely complex and varied; no individual being exactly the same in genetic makeup and/ or personality.

And, except for Kanners type Autism, where there is no verbal communication, the diagnoses beyond this is psychological in nature with subjective components. If everyone in the population was forced to take a quiz for Aspergers, I'm sure the percentage of diagnosed cases would be much higher, and many would probably score high with little to no impairment in the ability to function in life.

The only archaelogical evidence we have indicates that Neanderthal groups were small in size, and they cooperated as a group for survival.

Today, we have technology and civilization to support solitary pursuits. Put a naked human out in the woods by themselves, and they generally won't do well without support of others and/or some benefit of modern civilization, regardless of neurodiversity or personality traits, however a robust physical nature might allow one to last a little longer.

The clearest evidence from the archaelogical record is, as a species, Neanderthals were much stronger and more robust than present day man, as a species. Chimpanzees although smaller are much stronger than humans; the paleontological record of Neanderthals indicate they had this kind of strength.

However, I wouldn't discount their intelligence. It is known that the wild version of our domesticated animals show signs of higher intelligence. Neanderthals were not domesticated as we have been bred, having a good idea most of the time where our next meal is coming from.

The archaelogical record indicates they kept moving looking for their next meal, never having the assurance that many of us have acquired through the development of agriculture and civilization. Just like wolves or lions, they had no Holidays from survival.

Interesting that there are some that speculate today that we are moving back toward that nomadic way of life, and stress levels of man today compared to the last 60 years, indicate that we are getting fewer and fewer Holidays from the rigors of survival.



Rocky
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14 Jun 2011, 12:57 am

aghogday wrote:
http://www.wrongplanet.net/postt163462.html
http://www.wrongplanet.net/postt163789.html

As recently discussed in the other posts, about 50 percent of the country are introverts and about 50 percent of the country are extroverts, of which genetics plays a part. An autism Diagnosis is close to 1 percent of that population, some state that a broad autism phenotype is about 10 percent of the population. Neurodiversity goes throughout the whole population, extremely complex and varied; no individual being exactly the same in genetic makeup and/ or personality.

And, except for Kanners type Autism, where there is no verbal communication, the diagnoses beyond this is psychological in nature with subjective components. If everyone in the population was forced to take a quiz for Aspergers, I'm sure the percentage of diagnosed cases would be much higher, and many would probably score high with little to no impairment in the ability to function in life.

The only archaelogical evidence we have indicates that Neanderthal groups were small in size, and they cooperated as a group for survival.

Today, we have technology and civilization to support solitary pursuits. Put a naked human out in the woods by themselves, and they generally won't do well without support of others and/or some benefit of modern civilization, regardless of neurodiversity or personality traits, however a robust physical nature might allow one to last a little longer.

The clearest evidence from the archaelogical record is, as a species, Neanderthals were much stronger and more robust than present day man, as a species. Chimpanzees although smaller are much stronger than humans; the paleontological record of Neanderthals indicate they had this kind of strength.

However, I wouldn't discount their intelligence. It is known that the wild version of our domesticated animals show signs of higher intelligence. Neanderthals were not domesticated as we have been bred, having a good idea most of the time where our next meal is coming from.

The archaelogical record indicates they kept moving looking for their next meal, never having the assurance that many of us have acquired through the development of agriculture and civilization. Just like wolves or lions, they had no Holidays from survival.

Interesting that there are some that speculate today that we are moving back toward that nomadic way of life, and stress levels of man today compared to the last 60 years, indicate that we are getting fewer and fewer Holidays from the rigors of survival.


Thanks for the links. I may post again in this thread after I read those. Your last post was interesting, but I have no comment regarding it as of now.


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