Invisible Spectrum Quotient: Moving Toward the Unfolding of Asperger Syndrome in Females


  • Alexandra Dyalee Comenius University Bratislava


A Well-Hidden Diagnosis

Asperger syndrome is a neurotype characterized by difficulties in social interaction, accompanied by a strong intrinsic motivation present within individual’s unique patterns of interest. Despite its expectedly noticeable behavioral manifestations, in number of cases, Asperger’s can be difficult to get properly identified, which results in frequent instances of late-adulthood diagnosis accompanied by long-term mistreatment. The reason for the latter phenomenon is the fact that despite having formal diagnosis of Asperger syndrome, some individuals are paradoxically often able to perform successfully in demanding social situations. Most commonly, this is a case of females [1].

What is Happening “In the Backstage”?

Pondering about the possible nature of this, a recent fMRI study provided us with a prospective neuroscientific explanation [2]. It was shown that when people with Asperger's are set a desired social action and successfully perform it, additional brain regions are activated, while two regions considered crucial for social cognition are not activated.

This variation of underlying neural mechanisms for social behavior now provides us tool for detection of Asperger syndrome in such socially highly functioning individuals. First, it implies there is executed a different approach toward social performance, stemming directly from diverse brain regions involved. Second, with additional brain activations in Asperger individuals, excessive cognitive load is observed. [3]

Based on these observations, we propose a diagnostic method of interlinked measurement of cognitive fatigue and approach analysis during the already established Reading the Mind in the Eyes test.

Below we briefly describe our mathematical model that aims to detect the correlation between successful performance in RMET and excessive fatigue, with parameters that need to be further tuned in a pilot study in order for the model to be applicable in clinical practice.

Mathematical Model

We introduce Invisible Spectrum Quotient (ISQ) as follows.

Let ISQ = f (functioning, fatigue) such that functioning =  ∈ [0,1] conveys success rate in RMET testing within a time limit of 3 minutes and fatigue ∈ [0,1] is fatigue rate. Fatigue is addressed as

fatigue = Cnorm (wLTϜLT + wSTFST)

such that FLT denotes long-term fatigue and FST denotes short-term fatigue, measurable on three scales in total: physiological (FPhy), behavioral (FBeh) and subjective (FSub). We approach it by FST = wPhyFPhy + wBehFBeh + wSubFSub with weights wi, Cnorm ∈ ℝ. Function f is intended to evaluate correlation of fuzzy values of functioning and fatigue.


[1] S. Bargiela, R. Steward, and W. Mandy, “The experiences of late-diagnosed women with autism spectrum conditions: An investigation of the female autism phenotype,” Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, vol. 46, no. 10, Jul., pp. 3281–94, 2016.

[2] T. Chen, S. Gau, Y. Wu, and A. Chou, “Neural substrates of theory of mind in adults with autism spectrum disorder: An fMRI study of the social animation task,” Journal of Formosan Medical Association, vol. 122, no. 7, Jul., pp. 621-28, 2023.

[3] A. Dyalee, “Theory of Mind: Varying Substrates of Social Cognition,” In Proc. Cognition and Artificial Life ‘22, 2024, pp. 44-48.