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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(12), 15960-15966; doi:10.3390/ijerph121215033

An Autistic Endophenotype and Testosterone Are Involved in an Atypical Decline in Selective Attention and Visuospatial Processing in Middle-Aged Women

Department of Psychobiology, University of Valencia, Avenida Blasco Ibañez, 21, 46010 Valencia, Spain
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Andrew Cashin
Received: 21 October 2015 / Revised: 3 December 2015 / Accepted: 11 December 2015 / Published: 15 December 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Healthcare and Autism)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [183 KB, uploaded 30 December 2015]

Abstract

Mothers of offspring with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) could present mild forms of their children’s cognitive characteristics, resulting from prenatal brain exposure and sensitivity to testosterone (T). Indeed, their cognition is frequently characterized by hyper-systemizing, outperforming in tests that assess cognitive domains such as selective attention, and fine motor and visuospatial skills. In the general population, all these start to decline around the mid-forties. This study aimed to characterize whether middle-aged women who are biological mothers of individuals with ASD had better performance in the aforementioned cognitive skills than mothers of normative children (in both groups n = 22; mean age = 45), using the standardized Stroop and mirror-drawing tests. We also examined the role of T in their performance in the aforementioned tests. ASD mothers outperformed controls in both tests, giving more correct answers and making fewer mistakes. In addition, they presented higher T levels, which have been associated with better cognitive performance. Cognitive decline in specific skills with aging could be delayed in these middle-aged women, corresponding to a cognitive endophenotype, T playing an important role in this process. View Full-Text
Keywords: Autism spectrum disorders; caregiver; selective attention; testosterone; women Autism spectrum disorders; caregiver; selective attention; testosterone; women
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Romero-Martínez, Á.; Moya-Albiol, L. An Autistic Endophenotype and Testosterone Are Involved in an Atypical Decline in Selective Attention and Visuospatial Processing in Middle-Aged Women. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12, 15960-15966.

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