According to a new study, autism may affect the brains of men and women differently.
The study, conducted by scientists at the Autism Research Center at the University of Cambridge, UK, used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine the brains of 120 males and females with and without autism.
The tests found that the brain anatomies of females with autism were substantially different when compared to the brains of their male counterparts, while at the same time exhibiting traits more closely related to males without autism.
"What we have known about autism to date is mainly male-biased, said Dr Meng-Chuan Lai, the lead author of the study. "This research shows that it is possible that the effect of autism manifests differently according to one's gender."
The discovery may also relate to an idea known as the extreme male brain theory of autism, which hypothesizes that autism is actually an extreme version of the typical male brain profile.
"The key message is that researchers should not really assume that what we know about autism in males will always be applicable to females."
For more about the study, see BBC News Health.
For a full text of this study, see the June issue of the Oxford Journal of Neurology, Brain.