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Monday, August 15, 2011

A Fight in Oxford

Nearly everything about autism involves harsh arguments. The latest example come from Oxford University. Cherwell, the university's independent student newspaper, reports:

Two Oxford professors have been engaged in a high-profile disagreement about the causes of autism.

The row started after Baroness Susan Greenfield, Professor of Synaptic Pharmacology at Lincoln College and former director of the Royal Institution, suggested in an interview with the New Scientist that increasing use of the internet and electronic devices could be linked to autism in young people.

Greenfield claimed that this was likely to be a factor in the rising rates of autism diagnosis. She told Cherwell, “it is hard to see how obsessive cyber activities couldnotbe having some impact on the brain, because the human brain has evolved to adapt to its environment”.

However Dorothy Bishop, a Professor of Neuropsychology at St John’s, has publicly attacked Greenfield’s suggestions, dismissing them in an open letter to her colleague as “illogical garbage”. Speaking to Cherwell, she said: “The specific problem concerns her [Baroness Greenfield] repeatedly mentioning autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) in connection with her concerns about dangers of internet use”.