By Sarah Knapton, Science Editor 8:35PM GMT 03 Nov 2015
Academics really are wired differently, testing higher on the autism spectrum which makes them better at ‘systems thinking’
For people baffled as to how scientists and mathematicians come up with such novel ideas, a new study suggests they are higher on the autism spectrum making them far better at logical thinking and seeing the bigger picture.
New research which tested nearly 500,000 people for autism traits and compared it to their jobs found those in involved in STEM professions (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) have more autistic traits.
Autistic traits are not the same as having a diagnosis of autism; instead, these are characteristics of personality and behaviour that are found throughout the general population and are linked to what is seen in the clinical condition of autism.
Everyone has some autistic traits – such as difficulty in taking another person’s point of view, difficulty in switching attention flexibly, and excellent attention to detail – and there is a wide range in the population.