Daily Archives: May 13, 2006

“Never Daydream”? Umm…


The BBC has a story called “Autistic Brains Never Daydream”, that discusses an experiment in which autistic brains and non-autistic brains were different ‘at rest’.

This supposedly shows that autistic people don’t daydream. I don’t know all the details of the experiment, but it involved measuring the brain activity of autistic and non-autistic people, both during a counting task, and while staring at a cross. There was a particular kind of brain activity that occurred in non-autistic people “at rest” (looking at the cross), that did not occur in autistic people “at rest”.

The question I’m asking here is, how do they know the autistic people were “at rest” while looking at the cross? When I’m looking at something, that’s not restful activity, no matter how still the something is sitting. I’ve daydreamed before, though. It seems like they could just as well have been testing the difference between when autistic and non-autistic people are likely to daydream, as the difference between whether autistic and non-autistic people daydream.

I hope the experiment was designed better than the news articles are making it look like, because if it wasn’t, I don’t know how they can claim to know all that based on the experiment as described.