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Brain activity patterns may distinguish girls with autism

Autistic and non-autistic girls’ brains differ in activity in a way that autistic and non-autistic boys’ brains do not, according to a new study. This sex difference may stem from distinct patterns of gene expression during early development.

The new findings lend support to the idea that autism has sex-specific biological roots. Such a difference may help explain the lower prevalence of autism in girls — and compound a diagnostic bias that leads some clinicians to overlook girls with the condition.

Gaining a better understanding of what autism looks like in girls — from their brain activity to the traits they express — might help clinicians identify autistic girls more readily and eliminate some of that bias, says co-lead investigator Allison Jack, assistant professor of psychology at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

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