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:6/30/2017)... , June 30, 2017 Today, ... developer and supplier of face and eye tracking ... Featured Product provider program. "Artificial ... innovative way to monitor a driver,s attentiveness levels ... from being able to detect fatigue and prevent ...
(Date:5/16/2017)... , May 16, 2017  Veratad Technologies, LLC ... of online age and identity verification solutions, announced today ... Identity Conference 2017, May 15 thru May 17, 2017, ... Building and International Trade Center. Identity ... globe and in today,s quickly evolving digital world, defining ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... , April 19, 2017 The ... vendor landscape is marked by the presence of several ... however held by five major players - 3M Cogent, ... companies accounted for nearly 61% of the global military ... companies in the global military biometrics market boast global ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... The Pittcon Program Committee is ... honoring scientists who have made outstanding contributions to analytical chemistry and applied spectroscopy. ... world’s leading conference and exposition for laboratory science, which will be held February ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... ... The award-winning American Farmer television series will feature 3 Bar Biologics in ... 8:30aET on RFD-TV. , With global population estimates nearing ten billion people by ... feed a growing nation. At the same time, many of our valuable resources are ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... October 09, 2017 , ... ... line of medical marijuana products targeting the needs of consumers who are incorporating ... Kindred takes place in Phoenix, Arizona. , As operators of two successful Valley ...
(Date:10/7/2017)... ... October 06, 2017 , ... ... advanced instruments and applications consulting for microscopy and surface analysis, Nanoscience Instruments ... consulting, Nanoscience Analytical offers a broad range of contract analysis services for ...
Breaking Biology Technology: