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Simon Baron-Cohen is a British professor of developmental psychopathology in the departments of psychiatry and experimental psychology at the University of Cambridge, a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, and director of the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge, in the United Kingdom. He finished a PhD in psychology at University College London. He is best known for his work on autism, including his theory that autism is an extreme form of the "male brain," and for his work on theory of mind.
Research areas[edit | edit source]
Baron-Cohen has proposed several seminal concepts in understanding autism and in developmental behavioural neuroscience, that include theory of mind, assortative mating, eye direction detection, empathizing and systemizing as personality dimensions, and extreme systemizing as a possible feature underlying the autistic brain.[How to reference and link to summary or text] He has also discovered that fetal testosterone is correlated with traits that in autism are extremes of normal variation (such as eye contact or language development).[How to reference and link to summary or text]
As a psychologist, Baron-Cohen is interested in the developmental psychology of theory of mind. He brought together findings from primate behavioural literature and philosophy of other minds to suggest, along with Uta Frith and Alan Leslie, that autistic children might be exhibiting a theory of mind impairment. He has also suggested the existence of an "Eye Direction Detector" module in the brain, that enables human beings to attribute mental states and complex emotions to others.[How to reference and link to summary or text] He is strongly influenced by the cognitive neuroscience approach to psychology, but also writes books aimed at providing information about complex neurological problems with profound psychological consequences, such as autism and Tourette's syndrome for carers, health professionals and others.
Baron-Cohen's research projects include:
- Prenatal testosterone and autism
- Genetics of autism spectrum disorders (AS)
- fMRI studies of autism specrum disorders
- Teaching emotions via DVD-ROM
- Toddler study of autism
- Cognitive talents and deficits in people with AS
- Screening for AS in primary schools
- Diagnosis of AS in adulthood
- Early screening for AS
- Baron-Cohen's model of infant theory of mind
Books[edit | edit source]
Dr. Baron-Cohen has written five books, including Mindblindness (1995), and has edited three.
In Baron-Cohen's book, The Essential Difference: The Truth About the Male and Female Brain (2004), he argues that there are innate differences between male and female brains. Female brains are predominantly wired for empathy, he reasons, whereas male brains are predominantly wired for "understanding and building systems". He describes autism as an extreme version of the male brain, which he postulates as an explanation for why autism is more common among males.
In addition to autism, Baron-Cohen is also one of the pioneers in the empirical study of synaesthesia, and has edited a book on it: Synaesthesia: Classic and contemporary readings (1997).
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- Dr. Baron-Cohen is the cousin of Sacha Baron Cohen, the actor and comedian who is known for his characters "Ali G," "Borat," and "Bruno"
- Dr. Baron-Cohen is Jewish
See also[edit | edit source]
- Autism epidemic
- Controversies in autism
- Theory of mind
- Sensory Integration Dysfunction
- Autism Spectrum Quotient
- EQ SQ Theory
Publications[edit | edit source]
Books[edit | edit source]
- Baron-Cohen, S.(1995) Mindblindness
- Baron-Cohen, S.(1997) Synaesthesia: Classic and contemporary readings
- Baron-Cohen, S.(2004) The Essential Difference: The Truth About the Male and Female Brain.
Book Chapters[edit | edit source]
Papers[edit | edit source]
- (Baron-Cohen, S., Leslie, A., & Frith, U. (1985). Does the autistic child have a 'theory of mind'? Cognition, 21, 37-46.
[edit | edit source]
- Research Profile - Professor Baron-Cohen's website at the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge
- Guardian.co.uk - 'They just can't help it', Simon Baron-Cohen, The Guardian (April 17, 2003)
- UCL.ac.uk - 'Professor Uta Frith and Dr Sarah-Jayne Blakemore', University College London Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
- Rutgers.edu - 'Director Alan M. Leslie, Rutgers University Cognitive Development Laboratory
- EQSQ.com How Does Your Mind Work - Baron-Cohen's psychological tests
- Baron-Cohen's 50-question Autism-Spectrum Quotient Test
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