CAMBRIDGE, England, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- The genes thought to cause autism may also confer on people without the condition mathematical, musical and other skills, researchers in England say.
The Sunday Times of London reported that in a study of 378 Cambridge University students, autism was up to seven times more common among mathematicians than among students in other disciplines.
Researchers also found that autism was five times more common in the siblings of mathematicians.
The newspaper reported that the study suggests the genes responsible for autism are usually beneficial, causing the disease only if present in the wrong combinations.
"Our understanding of autism is undergoing a transformation," said Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, director of the autism research center at Cambridge, who led the study. "It seems clear that genes play a significant role in the causes of autism and that those genes are also linked to certain intellectual skills."