Autism and genius: Is there a link? The involvement of central brain loops and hypotheses for functional testing

Marianna Boso, Enzo Emanuele, Francesca Prestori, Pierluigi Politi, Francesco Barale, Egidio D'Angelo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mental processing is the product of the huge number of synaptic interactions that occur in the brain. It is easier to understand how brain functions can deteriorate than how they might be boosted. Lying at the border between the humanities, cognitive science and neurophysiology, some mental diseases offer new angles on this problematic issue. Despite their social deficits, autistic subjects can display unexpected and extraordinary skills in numerous fields, including music, the arts, calculation and memory. The advanced skills found in a subgroup of people with autism may be explained by their special mental functioning, in particular by their weak central coherence, one of the pivotal characteristics of the disorder. As a result of the increasing interest in autistic talent, there has recently emerged a tendency to screen any eccentric artist or scientist for traits of the autistic spectrum. Following this trend, we analyze the eccentricity of the popular pianist Glenn Gould and briefly discuss the major functional hypotheses on autistic hyperfunctioning, advancing proposals for functional testing. In particular, the potential involvement of rhythm-entrained systems and cerebro-cerebellar loops opens up new perspectives for the investigation of autistic disorders and brain hyperfunctioning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-20
Number of pages6
JournalFunctional Neurology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010


  • ASD
  • Autism
  • Brain connectivity
  • Cerebro-cerebellar loops
  • Music

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Autism and genius: Is there a link? The involvement of central brain loops and hypotheses for functional testing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this