Synaesthesia may be linked to autism

A new study has discovered that there may be a link between synaesthesia and autism, two conditions that were previously thought to be completely separate. Synaesthesia results in patients having their senses mixed up.

For example, someone with it might taste a colour as a particular flavour, or perceive the feel of a material as inextricably linked to an emotion.

Researchers at Cambridge University gave questionnaires aimed at identifying synaesthesia and autistic traits to 164 people with high-functioning autism or Asperger's syndrome, as well as to 97 without either.

Despite expectations that the results would demonstrate clear distinctions, it was discovered that 18.9 per cent of those with autism spectrum conditions had synaesthesia, while the comparative figure for the control group was only 7.2 per cent.

Lead author Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, an expert on autism and recipient of numerous awards from the British Psychological Society, said the links could be related to brain connectivity.

Writing in the journal Molecular Autism, he added: "These findings will re-focus research to examine common factors that drive brain development in these traditionally very separate conditions."
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