No such thing as "neurotypical"?

"The distinction between neurodiverse and neurotypical is too simplistic. There is certainly a great deal of structural variability between individuals, and that's compounded by structural changes that go on across the lifespan. I'm sure [the extent of brain variability is] a lot more than most people realise." — Jon Simons, senior author on a recently published research paper looking at structural variation in the human brain, and its influence on the ability to distinguish between stuff that actually happened, and stuff we imagine. As quoted by Mo Costandi in The Guardian.


  1. An interesting article in that it ties where your perceptions are on the reality -> fantasy continuum to a specific brain structure.  I note that it (or at least the Guardian summary) uses the Schizophrenic to Neurotypical portion of the scale as the example but leaves off the Neurotypical -> Autistic portion but does refer to the Autistic political movements.  The latter portion of the scale is mostly things that the average person edits out, such as the scintillation of dust particles in the air, that many autistic people don’t plus a big dollop of conflation.

    The idea that this is a single continuum is controversial though.  Some would say that one is a matter of spam filters whereas the other is a matter of the firewall between your waking and dreaming processes plus the degree to which you do your dreaming on a timesharing or multiple thread basis.  There are also a number of ways of describing the concept of reality and who knows which of them are real?

    I like the question raised as to how many neurodiverse people are “in the closet”, so to speak and the degree to which neurotypical perceptions are a matter of social convention.  It’s a dialogue that started long ago in the area of sexuality but seldom raised elsewhere.

  2. Of course there is such a thing as “neurotypical!” I am neurotypical, as is anyone nearly exactly like me. Everyone else is just weird.

  3. Of course, the way it’s most commonly used is as a synonym for “people who haven’t been diagnosed with any form of unusual neurology”, and there’s an awful lot of those.

  4. I don’t know, I feel this is obvious and is implied when terms like “neurotypical” are used – at least, by those who are familiar with the topic. Not that I have a problem with someone pointing this out, as I’m sure some people take the words in the wrong way.

    I mean, these days it’s generally understood that autism is a spectrum. As Nadreck mentioned, homosexuality has been considered a spectrum since Kinsey.

    If you put these two ideas together, then *everyone* is on the “autism spectrum.” What’s considered asperger’s, then, is like bisexuality.

  5. Sometimes it seems to me that “neurotypical” is a euphemism for the brain model that either omits the math co-processor entirely, or simply declines to fire it up with decent apps for mathematical reasoning and analytical problem-solving.

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