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Autistic spectrum disorder in prehistory

Pickard, C. and Pickard, B. and Bonsall, C. (2011) Autistic spectrum disorder in prehistory. Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 21 (3). pp. 357-364. ISSN 0959-7743

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Abstract

Individuals with 'extraordinary' or 'different' minds have been suggested to be central to invention and the spread of new ideas in prehistory, shaping modern human behaviour and conferring an evolutionary advantage at population level. In this article the potential for neuropsychiatric conditions such as autistic spectrum disorders to provide this difference is explored, and the ability of the archaeological record to provide evidence of human behaviour is discussed. Specific reference is made to recent advances in the genetics of these conditions, which suggest that neuro psychiatric disorders represent a non-advantageous, pathological extreme of the human mind and are likely a by-product rather than a cause of human cognitive evolution.