Everyone surely remembers the “Rain Man” famous scene, when Raymond (played by Dustin Hoffman), a man with Autism Spectrum Disorder, reads the telephone book and unwittingly memorize every single phone number he read. Of course, this is just a fiction, but the reality is not far from this situation. While their social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication is quite impaired, autistic persons are capable of remembering a huge amount of details.
The neuropsychologists at Sand Diego State University were intrigued how this superior ability occurs among autistic persons, and what causes it.
In the study published in Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, they focused on the way brain development provides Autistic individuals this ability. They found that the autistic brain is more symmetrical and less likely to specialize between brain hemispheres.
Actually, the human brain is highly asymmetrical, and both the left and the right hemisphere have its own tasks. In this way, the brain can process different types of information. The brain’s left hemisphere is used when processing the details, but the right side of the brain actually puts this information into an integrated picture
Using MRI scan, scientists investigated how brain connections develop in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, compared to children who develop in a typical fashion, explains Huffington Post. They discover that children and adults with autism more likely use both sides of the brain equally – and that results of ability to observe and memorize the tiniest details. But, they can’t put those details into a bigger, coherent picture.
Dr. Ralph-Axel Mueller, the lead author of the study, said The Huffington Post “In very loose and simplified analogy: the left side of the brain sees the trees, the right sees the forest”. So, it can be said that autistic people only can see the trees.
But the studies like this can bring a useful information on ASD, which can open a door to a better understanding of autism, and enable autistic individuals to develop their unique and amazing abilities.