The Pattern Seekers: A New Theory of Human Invention – with Simon Baron-Cohen


From The Royal Institution.

Psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen argues that our ability to identify patterns, particularly if-and-then patterns, allows humans to be the only animals on the planet with the ability to invent things.
Simon’s book: ‘The Pattern Seekers’ is available now:
Watch the Q&A:

From the first musical instrument to the digital revolutions, what is the unique ability that has driven human progress for 70,000 years?

In this talk, psychologist and world renowned autism expert Simon Baron-Cohen puts forward a bold new theory. From his book ‘The Pattern Seekers’ he discusses how humans can identify patterns, specifically ‘if-and-then’ patterns.

By linking one of our greatest human strengths with a condition that is so often misunderstood, Simon challenges us to think differently about those who think differently.


Simon Baron-Cohen is a Professor in the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry University of Cambridge and Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge. He is Director of the Autism Research Centre in Cambridge. He is author of ‘Mindblindness’ (, ‘The Essential Difference’ (, and ‘Zero Degrees of Empathy’ (

He created the first UK clinic for adults with suspected Asperger Syndrome (1999) that has helped over 1,000 patients to have their disability recognized. He gave a keynote address to the United Nations in New York on Autism Awareness Day 2017 on the topic of Autism and Human Rights.

He serves as Scientific Advisor, Trustee or Patron to several autism charities including the Autism Research Trust, the Cambridge Autism Centre of Excellence, and to the company Auticon, which only employs autistic people. He has taken part in many television documentaries, including the BBC’s Horizon, and Employable Me.

This talk and Q&A was recorded by the Royal Institution on 26 November 2020.

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