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Temple Grandin is autistic, and has applied her experiences as an autistic woman to her work with animals. This book is sprinkled with information from all aspects of her work, including interesting anecdotes about human and animal behaviour.

Her theory is that the frontal lobe’s ability to screen through all the incoming sensory data to the human brain to quickly form broad generalizations is what we understand to be normal human consciousness. The more limited functioning of animal frontal lobes allows them more direct access to the raw data from lower parts of the brain. This allows animals to super specialize in certain skills that help them to survive. (i.e. a migratory bird’s ability to remember 1,000 mile routes).

Impared functioning of the frontal lobe may explain how some autistic persons appear to have super human skills in specialized areas. They have access to the raw data from the lower parts of the brain unfettered by screening by the frontal lobes. Unfortunately, it also explains how other autistic persons can be overwhelmed by the flood of incoming sensory data and are unable respond appropriately to their surroundings.

Grandin attributes her success solving problems with animal handling in the food industry to an ability to see things from an animals point of view. A tough read in places but an extremely interesting insight into animal / human interaction.

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