Scottish and Australian scientists have found a link with higher intelligence in genes that are responsible for developing autism.
Genes that produce a higher risk of autism have a positive influence on intelligence in people that do not develop the condition. These findings may explain why, in rare cases, autism is associated with higher intelligence.
The scientists based their conclusion on a study with over 10.000 participants, recruited from the general population of Scotland. The subjects all underwent an intelligence test and where genetically tested.
Professor Nick Martin, of the Queensland Institute for Medical Research, stated the following in an interview with ScienceDaily: "Links between autism and better cognitive function have been suspected and are widely implied by the well-known "Silicon Valley syndrome" and films such as "Rain Man" as well as in popular literature. This study suggests genes for autism may actually confer, on average, a small intellectual advantage in those who carry them, provided they are not affected by autism."
Approximately 70 percent of the people with autism have an intellectual disability. The new found link between some specific autism genes and higher cognitive skills could explain the nature of the nature of autistic intelligence.
Further reading: http://www.nature.com/mp/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/mp201512a.html