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Women Genetically Programmed For Social Situations

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    NHNE News List Current Members: 736 Subscribe/unsubscribe/archive info at the bottom of this message. ... GENETIC CLUE TO GIRL POWER By Helen Briggs BBC
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 6, 2002
      NHNE News List
      Current Members: 736
      Subscribe/unsubscribe/archive info at the bottom of this message.


      By Helen Briggs
      Tuesday, November 5, 2002


      Women may be less prone to "geekiness" because of their genes.

      Research suggests they are genetically programmed to be adept in social

      The key is the female X chromosome, which seems to protect against disorders
      linked with poor social interactions.

      Dr Ruth Campbell of University College London, UK, says there may be genes
      on the X chromosome that are important for the development of social skills.

      Bringing up baby

      Men have only a single X chromosome. It is possible that the difficulties
      some experience in displaying appropriate social behaviour could be down to
      this, she says.

      "Having two X chromosomes may be protective against whatever predisposes
      someone to not being able to make sense of the social world," she told BBC
      News Online.

      "It makes sense for women, who have to give birth, to have evolved so that
      the development of their social aptitude is well protected from accidents of
      inheritance or environment.

      "Their survival, and that of their babies, is particularly dependent on
      reading social situations accurately."

      Gaze perception

      The evidence comes from a study of women with Turner's Syndrome, a female
      genetic condition caused by a missing or defective X-chromosome.

      Many women with Turner's Syndrome have difficulties in social interactions,
      and find it hard to read body language. They have normal intelligence,
      however, and good verbal abilities.

      A team at the department of human communication science tested the accuracy
      of gaze perception in 41 women with Turner's Syndrome.

      The women were shown pictures of two faces, one looking directly forward and
      the other with a slightly averted gaze.

      The researchers found that women with Turner's Syndrome were much worse at
      distinguishing precisely where someone was looking - and this affected their
      ability to tell if they were being looked at directly.

      Autism conditions

      Dr Campbell says it is not that men are worse than women at social cognition
      but among people who are really bad at it you are far more likely to find
      men than women.

      Autism and autism-like conditions such as Asperger's syndrome are far more
      prevalent in men than women but it is not clear why.

      David Potter of the National Autistic Society says a possible link with the
      X chromosome is a plausible theory but far more research needs to be done.

      "It's another small piece of the jigsaw but it's not going to explain all
      cases of autism," he said.

      The research is published in the online edition of the Royal Society's
      Proceedings A and B.


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