Dr Meng-Chuan Lai


As a clinician scientist, my vision is to bridge and integrate multi-level biological-cognitive-psychological-social research and clinical services. My clinical interests are in the risk and resilience processes across the lifespan in individuals with atypical social, cognitive and affective development (e.g., the autism spectrum, ADHD, anxiety and mood disorders) and children and youths with medical illness, as well as how sex/gender modulates these processes. My current research investigates cognitive and neuro/biological bases of autism and associated neurodevelopmental conditions, and their emerging comorbidities across the lifespan. A particular focus is on females with autism and the complex relationships between autism and sexual differentiation, gender socialization, and sex/gender differences. I am also interested in mind-brain-body interactions, psychiatric nosology (especially in clarifying the vast heterogeneity in psychiatric conditions) and cross-discipline integration.

A four-level framework to understand sex/gender differences and autism
A four-level framework to understand sex/gender differences and autism
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Research Focus




Social cognitive development

Child and adolescent psychiatry


Clinical conditions

Anxiety disorders

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder


Bipolar disorder

Childhood disorders

Cognitive impairment

Depressive disorders

Gender dysphoria

Obsessive compulsive disorder

Personality disorders


Sexual identity development

Tourette's syndrome


Behavioural analysis

Cross-sectional and cohort studies

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Neuropsychological testing



Carrie Allison

Simon Baron-Cohen

Richard Bethlehem

Ed Bullmore

Rosemary Holt

Amber Ruigrok

John Suckling

United Kingdom

Bonnie Auyeung Web: http://www.ppls.ed.ac.uk/people/...

Bhismadev Chakrabarti Web: http://www.bhismalab.org/

Christine Ecker Web: http://kclpure.kcl.ac.uk/portal/...

Francesca Happé Web: http://kclpure.kcl.ac.uk/portal/...

Michael Lombardo Web: http://sites.google.com/site/mv...

Eva Loth Web: http://kclpure.kcl.ac.uk/portal/...

William Mandy Web: http://iris.ucl.ac.uk/iris/br...

Declan Murphy Web: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/ioppn/d...


Stephanie Ameis Web: http://www.camh.ca/en/rese...

Evdokia Anagnostou Web: http://research.hollandbloorview.ca/scienti...

Susan Shur-Fen Gau Web: http://www.ntuh.gov.tw/en/PSY/...

Peter Szatmari Web: http://www.psychiatry.utoronto.ca/people/...

Associated News Items

    Key publications

    Baron-Cohen S, Bowen DC, Holt RJ, Allison C, Auyeung B, Lombardo MV, Smith P, Lai MC (2015), “The "Reading the Mind in the Eyes" Test: Complete Absence of Typical Sex Difference in ~400 Men and Women with Autism.” PLoS One 10(8):e0136521 Details

    Lai MC, Baron-Cohen S, Buxbaum JD (2015), “Understanding autism in the light of sex/gender.” Mol Autism 6:24 Details

    Lai MC, Lombardo MV, Auyeung B, Chakrabarti B, Baron-Cohen S (2015), “Sex/gender differences and autism: setting the scene for future research.” J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 54(1):11-24 Details

    Baron-Cohen S, Cassidy S, Auyeung B, Allison C, Achoukhi M, Robertson S, Pohl A, Lai MC (2014), “Attenuation of Typical Sex Differences in 800 Adults with Autism vs. 3,900 Controls.” PLoS One 9(7):e102251 Details

    Lai MC, Lombardo MV, Baron-Cohen S (2014), “Autism.” Lancet 383(9920):896-910 Details

    Lai MC, Lombardo MV, Ecker C, Chakrabarti B, Suckling J, Bullmore ET, Happé F, MRC AIMS Consortium, Murphy DG, Baron-Cohen S (2014), “Neuroanatomy of Individual Differences in Language in Adult Males with Autism.” Cereb Cortex Details

    Lai MC, Lombardo MV, Chakrabarti B, Baron-Cohen S (2013), “Subgrouping the Autism "Spectrum": Reflections on DSM-5.” PLoS Biol 11(4):e1001544 Details

    Lai MC, Lombardo MV, Suckling J, Ruigrok AN, Chakrabarti B, Ecker C, Deoni SC, Craig MC, Murphy DG, Bullmore ET, MRC AIMS Consortium, Baron-Cohen S (2013), “Biological sex affects the neurobiology of autism.” Brain 136(Pt 9):2799-815 Details

    Lai MC, Lombardo MV, Chakrabarti B, Ecker C, Sadek SA, Wheelwright SJ, Murphy DG, Suckling J, Bullmore ET, MRC AIMS Consortium, Baron-Cohen S (2012), “Individual differences in brain structure underpin empathizing-systemizing cognitive styles in male adults.” Neuroimage 61(4):1347-54 Details

    Lai MC, Lombardo MV, Ruigrok AN, Chakrabarti B, Wheelwright SJ, Auyeung B, Allison C, MRC AIMS Consortium, Baron-Cohen S (2012), “Cognition in males and females with autism: similarities and differences.” PLoS One 7(10):e47198 Details

    Lin YJ, Lai MC, Gau SS (2012), “Youths with ADHD with and without tic disorders: Comorbid psychopathology, executive function and social adjustment.” Res Dev Disabil 33(3):951-963 Details

    Lai MC, Lombardo MV, Pasco G, Ruigrok AN, Wheelwright SJ, Sadek SA, Chakrabarti B, MRC AIMS Consortium, Baron-Cohen S (2011), “A behavioral comparison of male and female adults with high functioning autism spectrum conditions.” PLoS One 6(6):e20835 Details

    Liu CC, Lai MC, Liu CM, Chiu YN, Hsieh MH, Hwang TJ, Chien YL, Chen WJ, Hua MS, Hsiung PC, Huang YC, Hwu HG (2011), “Follow-up of subjects with suspected pre-psychotic state in Taiwan.” Schizophr Res 126(1-3):65-70 Details

    Lai MC, Chiu YN, Gadow KD, Gau SS, Hwu HG (2010), “Correlates of gender dysphoria in Taiwanese university students.” Arch Sex Behav 39(6):1415-28 Details

    Lai MC, Gau SS (2010), “The autism spectrum (in Chinese)” Formosan Journal of Medicine 14(4): 401-411

    Lai MC, Lombardo MV, Chakrabarti B, Sadek SA, Pasco G, Wheelwright SJ, Bullmore ET, Baron-Cohen S, MRC AIMS Consortium, Suckling J (2010), “A shift to randomness of brain oscillations in people with autism.” Biol Psychiatry 68(12):1092-9 Details



    Chien HY, Lin HY, Lai MC, Gau SS, Tseng WY (2015), “Hyperconnectivity of the Right Posterior Temporo-parietal Junction Predicts Social Difficulties in Boys with Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Autism Res Details

    Larson FV, Lai MC, Wagner AP, MRC AIMS Consortium, Baron-Cohen S, Holland AJ (2015), “Testing the 'Extreme Female Brain' Theory of Psychosis in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder with or without Co-Morbid Psychosis.” PLoS One 10(6):e0128102 Details

    Lin HY, Ni HC, Lai MC, Tseng WY, Gau SS (2015), “Regional brain volume differences between males with and without autism spectrum disorder are highly age-dependent.” Mol Autism 6:29 Details

    Lin HY, Tseng WY, Lai MC, Matsuo K, Gau SS (2015), “Altered Resting-State Frontoparietal Control Network in Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.” J Int Neuropsychol Soc :1-14 Details

    Lisiecka DM, Holt R, Tait R, Ford M, Lai MC, Chura LR, Baron-Cohen S, Spencer MD, Suckling J (2015), “Developmental white matter microstructure in autism phenotype and corresponding endophenotype during adolescence.” Transl Psychiatry 5:e529 Details


    Holt RJ, Chura LR, Lai MC, Suckling J, von dem Hagen E, Calder AJ, Bullmore ET, Baron-Cohen S, Spencer MD (2014), “'Reading the Mind in the Eyes': an fMRI study of adolescents with autism and their siblings.” Psychol Med 44(15):3215-27 Details

    Pironti VA, Lai MC, Müller U, Dodds CM, Suckling J, Bullmore ET, Sahakian BJ (2014), “Neuroanatomical abnormalities and cognitive impairments are shared by adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and their unaffected first-degree relatives.” Biol Psychiatry 76(8):639-47 Details

    Ruigrok AN, Salimi-Khorshidi G, Lai MC, Baron-Cohen S, Lombardo MV, Tait RJ, Suckling J (2014), “A meta-analysis of sex differences in human brain structure.” Neurosci Biobehav Rev 39C:34-50 Details

    Suckling J, Henty J, Ecker C, Deoni SC, Lombardo MV, Baron-Cohen S, Jezzard P, Barnes A, Chakrabarti B, Ooi C, Lai MC, Williams SC, Murphy DG, Bullmore E, MRC AIMS Consortium (2014), “Are power calculations useful? A multicentre neuroimaging study.” Hum Brain Mapp 35(8):3569-77 Details

    Wilson CE, Happé F, Wheelwright SJ, Ecker C, Lombardo MV, Johnston P, Daly E, Murphy CM, Spain D, Lai MC, Chakrabarti B, Sauter DA, MRC AIMS Consortium, Baron-Cohen S, Murphy DG (2014), “The neuropsychology of male adults with high-functioning autism or asperger syndrome.” Autism Res 7(5):568-81 Details


    Ecker C, Ginestet C, Feng Y, Johnston P, Lombardo MV, Lai MC, Suckling J, Palaniyappan L, Daly E, Murphy CM, Williams SC, Bullmore ET, Baron-Cohen S, Brammer M, Murphy DG, MRC AIMS Consortium (2013), “Brain surface anatomy in adults with autism: the relationship between surface area, cortical thickness, and autistic symptoms.” JAMA Psychiatry 70(1):59-70 Details

    Ecker C, Ronan L, Feng Y, Daly E, Murphy C, Ginestet CE, Brammer M, Fletcher PC, Bullmore ET, Suckling J, Baron-Cohen S, Williams S, Loth E, MRC AIMS Consortium, Murphy DG (2013), “Intrinsic gray-matter connectivity of the brain in adults with autism spectrum disorder.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 110(32):13222-7 Details


    Beacher FD, Minati L, Baron-Cohen S, Lombardo MV, Lai MC, Gray MA, Harrison NA, Critchley HD (2012), “Autism attenuates sex differences in brain structure: a combined voxel-based morphometry and diffusion tensor imaging study.” AJNR Am J Neuroradiol 33(1):83-9 Details

    Beacher FD, Radulescu E, Minati L, Baron-Cohen S, Lombardo MV, Lai MC, Walker A, Howard D, Gray MA, Harrison NA, Critchley HD (2012), “Sex Differences and Autism: Brain Function during Verbal Fluency and Mental Rotation.” PLoS One 7(6):e38355 Details

    Ecker C, Suckling J, Deoni SC, Lombardo MV, Bullmore ET, Baron-Cohen S, Catani M, Jezzard P, Barnes A, Bailey AJ, Williams SC, Murphy DG, MRC AIMS Consortium (2012), “Brain anatomy and its relationship to behavior in adults with autism spectrum disorder: a multicenter magnetic resonance imaging study.” Arch Gen Psychiatry 69(2):195-209 Details

    Lombardo MV, Ashwin E, Auyeung B, Chakrabarti B, Lai MC, Taylor K, Hackett G, Bullmore ET, Baron-Cohen S (2012), “Fetal programming effects of testosterone on the reward system and behavioral approach tendencies in humans.” Biol Psychiatry 72(10):839-47 Details

    Lombardo MV, Chakrabarti B, Lai MC, Baron-Cohen S (2012), “Self-referential and social cognition in a case of autism and agenesis of the corpus callosum.” Mol Autism 3(1):14 Details


    Gau SS, Lee CM, Lai MC, Chiu YN, Huang YF, Kao JD, Wu YY (2011), “Psychometric properties of the Chinese version of the Social Communication Questionnaire” Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders 5:809-818

    Lo YC, Soong WT, Gau SS, Wu YY, Lai MC, Yeh FC, Chiang WY, Kuo LW, Jaw FS, Tseng WY (2011), “The loss of asymmetry and reduced interhemispheric connectivity in adolescents with autism: a study using diffusion spectrum imaging tractography.” Psychiatry Res 192(1):60-6 Details


    Liu CC, Chang LR, Tseng HH, Lai MC, Hwu HG (2010), “Differential propensity in recognition of prepsychotic phenomena among psychiatrists, clinical psychologists and school counsellors.” Early Interv Psychiatry 4(4):275-82 Details

    Liu CC, Hwu HG, Chiu YN, Lai MC, Tseng HH (2010), “Creating a platform to bridge service and research for early psychosis.” J Formos Med Assoc 109(7):543-9 Details

    Liu CC, Sheu YH, Wu SY, Lai MC, Hwu HG (2010), “Rapid response to antipsychotic treatment on psychotic prodrome: implications from a case series.” Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 64(2):202-6 Details


    Gau SS, Lai MC, Chiu YN, Liu CT, Lee MB, Hwu HG (2009), “Individual and family correlates for cigarette smoking among Taiwanese college students.” Compr Psychiatry 50(3):276-85 Details