Time to give up on a single explanation for autism

Nat Neurosci. 2006 Oct;9(10):1218-20. doi: 10.1038/nn1770.


We argue that there will be no single (genetic or cognitive) cause for the diverse symptoms defining autism. We present recent evidence of behavioral fractionation of social impairment, communication difficulties and rigid and repetitive behaviors. Twin data suggest largely nonoverlapping genes acting on each of these traits. At the cognitive level, too, attempts at a single explanation for the symptoms of autism have failed. Implications for research and treatment are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder* / etiology
  • Autistic Disorder* / genetics
  • Autistic Disorder* / physiopathology
  • Genes / physiology*
  • Humans