Uproar Follows Scientist's Claims Connecting Technology to Autism

Mass chaos has ensued following the suggesting made by a neuroscientist that there may be a connection between autism and the increasing usage of the Internet.

Mass chaos has ensued following the suggesting made by a neuroscientist that there may be a connection between autism and the increasing usage of the Internet.

Baroness Greenfield, a professor of pharmacology at Oxford University and former director of the Royal Institution, stated her beliefs concerning digital technology and how it could be leading to alterations in the brains of human beings.

Greenfield previously claimed that continuous computer and Internet use could be decreasing attention spans, promoting instant gratification, and leading to a loss of empathy.

A fellow Oxford professor, however, rebuked Greenfield for her claims concerning autism, calling them "illogical garbage."

"You may not realize just how much ill-formed speculation parents of [children with autistic spectrum disorders] are exposed to," reported Dorothy Bishop, a professor of neuropsychology, in an open letter to Baroness Greenfield.

"Over the years they've been told their children's problems are caused by a cold style of interaction, inoculations, faulty diets, allergies, drinking in pregnancy—the list is endless," Bishop continued.

Greenfield, participating in an interview with New Scientist magazine, has since responded to the attacks on her statements.

"I have never claimed new technologies are causing autism. Rather, I've said that the increase in lack of empathy, that is documented scientifically, may be leading to behaviors like that and this should be explored," Greenfield declared.

Bishop said that Greenfield has overlooked a large amount of evidence which implies that most, if not all, of the rise in autism is due to a widening of the diagnostic criteria and more thorough comprehension of the condition.

"Most cases are diagnosed around the age of two, when not many children are using the Internet,” stated Bishop. “And this rise has been documented over the past twenty years, long before Twitter and Facebook."