Planning actions in autism
- 1.1k Downloads
It has been suggested that the deficit in understanding others’ intention in autism depends on a malfunctioning of the mirror system. This malfunction could be due either to a deficit of the basic mirror mechanism or to a disorganization of chained action organization on which the mirror understanding of others’ intention is based. Here we tested this last hypothesis investigating the kinematics of intentional actions. Children with autism and typically developing children (TD) were asked to execute two actions consisting each of three motor acts: the first was identical in both actions while the last varied for its difficulty. The result showed that, unlike in TD children, in children with autism the kinematics of the first motor act was not modulated by the task difficulty. This finding strongly supports the notion that children with autism have a deficit in chaining motor acts into a global action.
KeywordsAutism Motor acts Action planning Mirror neuron system
The research described here is outside the main interests of Giovanni Berlucchi. However, all the authors of the present study, and GR in particular, are pleased to dedicate it to him for how much he contributed to their intellectual and scientific formation. The study was supported by EU Contract 012738, Neurocom, by PRIN 2006 to GR, and by Fondazione Monte Parma (FMP). M.F-D. was supported by Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Ferrara. We thank C. Pieraccini, A. Monti, E. Santelli and F. Dalla Vecchia for their clinical contribution. We also thank L. Sparaci and R. Pitino for their help in some parts of the experiment.
- Altschuler EL, Vankov A, Wang V, Ramachandran VS, Pineda JA (1997) Person see, person, poster session. Presented at the 27th annual meeting of the society for neuroscience, New Orleans, November 1997Google Scholar
- Boria S, Fabbri-Destro M, Cattaneo L, Sparaci L, Sinigaglia C, Santelli E, Cossu G, Rizzolatti G (2008) ‘What’ and ‘why’ in autism (submitted)Google Scholar
- Fuster JM (2002) Cortex and mind: unifying cognition. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Kanner L (1943) Autistic disturbances of affective contact. Nerv Child 2:217–250Google Scholar
- Lord C, Rutter M, Di Lovore PC, Risi S (2005) Autism diagnostic observation schedule. Organizzazioni Speciali, FlorenceGoogle Scholar
- Raven JC (1984) Coloured progressive matrices. Organizzazioni Speciali, FlorenceGoogle Scholar
- Rubini V, Padovani F (1986) Wechsler intelligence scale for children revised. Organizzazioni Speciali, FlorenceGoogle Scholar