Navigation Links
UCLA imaging study of children with autism finds broken mirror neuron system

New imaging research at UCLA detailed Dec. 4 as an advance online publication of the journal Nature Neuroscience shows children with autism have virtually no activity in a key part of the brain's mirror neuron system while imitating and observing emotions.

Mirror neurons fire when a person performs a goal-directed action and while he or she observes the same action performed by others. Neuroscientists believe this observation-execution matching system provides a neural mechanism by which others' actions, intentions and emotions can be understood automatically.

Symptoms of autism include difficulties with social interaction -- including verbal and nonverbal communication -- imitation and empathy. The new findings dramatically bolster a growing body of evidence pointing to a breakdown of the brain's mirror neuron system as the mechanism behind these autism symptoms.

"Our findings suggest that a dysfunctional mirror neuron system may underlie the social deficits observed in autism," said Mirella Dapretto, lead author and assistant professor in residence of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "Together with other recent data, our results provide strong support for a mirror neuron theory of autism. This is exciting because we finally have an account that can explain all core symptoms of this disorder."

Conducted at the Semel Institute's Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center, the research used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure brain activity in 10 high-functioning children with autism while they imitated and observed 80 photos depicting different emotions such as anger, fear, happiness or sadness. In addition, the brain activity of 10 typically developing children was studied while performing the same tasks.

Separately, symptom severity of each child with autism was tested using two independent measures (the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule -- Generic, and the Autism Diagnostic Interview).

The study shows that unlike typically developing children, children with autism have virtually no activity in the pars opercularis of the inferior frontal gyrus, identified by previous research as a key part of the mirror neuron system. Importantly, the level of mirror neuron activity seen in children with autism was inversely related to symptom severity in the social domain.

Children with autism also showed reduced activity in the emotion centers of the brain, consistent with the hypothesis that this mirroring mechanism may play a crucial role for understanding how others feel and for empathizing with them.

All of the children rehearsed the tasks prior to the fMRI scans to assure researchers they could perform the tasks. Both groups performed equally well. Normal brain activity in areas of the brain involving sight and facial movements indicated that the children with autism remained on task during the fMRI scans.


'"/>

Source:University of California - Los Angeles


Related biology news :

1. New imaging method gives early indication if brain cancer therapy is effective, U-M study shows
2. Duke engineers develop new 3-D cardiac imaging probe
3. Confocal imaging promises early detection of skin cancer
4. Newer imaging techniques may lead to over-treatment
5. Researchers use 3-D imaging system to unveil swimming behavior of microscopic plankton
6. Microscopic brain imaging in the palm of your hand
7. New imaging technology shown to detect pancreatic inflammation in type 1 diabetes
8. Purdues gold nanorods brighten future for medical imaging
9. PET imaging reveals the immune system at work
10. New technique puts brain-imaging research on its head
11. T-rays: New imaging technology spotlighted by American Chemical Society
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:2/1/2016)... February 1, 2016 Rising sales ... drive global touchfree intuitive gesture control market ... Rising sales of consumer electronics coupled with new technological ... size through 2020   ... with new technological advancements to drive global touchfree intuitive ...
(Date:1/27/2016)... CHESTER, Ohio , Jan. 27, 2016  Rite ... supplier based in West Chester, Ohio ... their award winning service staff, based in ... technical capacity and ability to provide modifications, installations and ... John Dovalina , CEO of PLUS, commented, "PLUS has ...
(Date:1/22/2016)... , Jan. 22, 2016 ... the addition of the "Global Biometrics ... to their offering. --> ... the "Global Biometrics Market in Retail ... --> Research and Markets ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/10/2016)... 2016 NX Prenatal Inc., a US ... technology for early warning of adverse pregnancy outcomes, ... study by Dr. Thomas McElrath of ... Fetal Medicine,s (SMFM) annual meeting held in ... 2016.  The presentation reported initial positive top-line results ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... DUBLIN , Feb. 10, 2016  Allergan plc ... today announced that Brent Saunders , Allergan,s CEO ... in a fireside chat session at the RBC Capital ... 12:30 p.m. ET at The New York Palace Hotel ... presentation will be webcast live and can be accessed ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... February 10, 2016 , ... LATHAM, NEW YORK... Marktech ... SPIE Photonics West conference in San Francisco’s Moscone Center from February 16-18, 2016, ... venue. , These latest InGaAs PIN diode standard packages feature a TO-46 metal ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... February 10, 2016 , ... ... a new agreement with Singapore-based Global Stem Cells Network (GSCN) and its affiliate ... and Singapore in the latest adipose and bone marrow therapies. , Through ...
Breaking Biology Technology: