Whoa! Genetic link between autism and child prodigies found

  • IANS, Washington
  • Updated: May 04, 2015 10:22 IST

Researchers have found the first evidence of a genetic link between prodigy and autism.

The finding may help explain why the two groups share certain characteristics, such as exceptionally good memories.

Researchers looked at DNA from 12 children with extraordinary abilities in music, mathematics or other fields.

They also looked at 39 other people who were all members of the children's families, including 10 family members who had autism, and four prodigies who also had autism, Live Science reported.

There were genetic markers on chromosome 1 that were shared between the prodigies and their relatives with autism, but the specific mutations involved could not be found.

For the study, the researchers defined a prodigy as a child who achieved national or international recognition for a specific skill by adolescence.

"Prodigies clearly share traits with children who have autism, such as exceptional memories and attention to detail," study co-author Joanne Ruthsatz, an assistant professor of psychology at The Ohio State University was quoted as telling Live Science.

However, one weak point in the study is that it is very small and statistically not convincing.

"We are now looking for the moderator that's shutting down the genes responsible for dysfunction in autism. Finding such a gene could lead to new autism treatments," Ruthsatz concluded.

The study was published in the journal Human Heredity.

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