To make up for this, the right hemisphere sometimes overcompensates, which can lead to special abilities in music, art, and visual memory. Savantism is not well-understood, but between a tenth and a third of people with autism may have some of these abilities.
Cooperrider’s team also discovered that Grandin’s amygdala, the almond-shaped organ said to play an important role in emotional processing, is larger than normal. This was not a surprising finding because among other functions, this region processes fear and anxiety, affective states often affected by autism. Her fusiform gyrus is smaller than normal—also not a surprise, since this region is involved in recognizing faces, a social skill that autism may disrupt.
Every brain is different, especially where autism is concerned, and Cooperrider’s study compares Grandin’s brain with only three controls, not enough to draw broad conclusions. But some of the patterns Cooperrider and his colleagues discovered back up other studies, and suggest new regions to explore.