Action observation and imitation in autism spectrum disorders: an ALE meta-analysis of fMRI studies
- 918 Downloads
Previous studies have shown that the mirror neuron system (MNS) plays an important role in action understanding. However, whether and how the MNS activity is different in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and typically developed (TD) individuals are still unclear. The current study used activation likelihood estimation to conduct a meta-analysis of functional magnetic resonance imaging studies that investigated action observation and imitation in ASD and TD individuals. Thirteen studies were selected, and the contrasts focused on the brain effects in ASD and TD participants and the differences between the two groups. The results showed that compared with TD individuals, ASD individuals exhibited stronger effects in the anterior inferior parietal lobule, a part of the putative human MNS. In addition, the ASD group demonstrated altered effects in the occipital cortex, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, cingulate cortex, and insula. These results suggest that ASD individuals demonstrate dysfunction of the MNS during action observation and imitation. Furthermore, brain regions involved in visual processing, executive function, and social cognitive function might also show dysfunction during action task performance.
KeywordsAutism spectrum disorders The mirror neuron system Action observation Action imitation Activation likelihood estimation Functional magnetic resonance imaging
This study was funded by Macquarie University (grant number 9201401500).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
Author Jie Yang declares that she has no conflict of interest. Author Jessica Hofmann declares that she has no conflict of interest.
This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.
- Ebisch, S. J., Gallese, V., Willems, R. M., Mantini, D., Groen, W. B., Romani, G. L., et al. (2011). Altered intrinsic functional connectivity of anterior and posterior insula regions in high-functioning participants with autism spectrum disorder. Human Brain Mapping, 32(7), 1013–1028.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Eickhoff, S. B., Laird, A. R., Grefkes, C., Wang, L. E., Zilles, K., & Fox, P. T. (2009). Coordinate-based activation likelihood estimation meta-analysis of neuroimaging data: a random-effects approach based on empirical estimates of spatial uncertainty. Human Brain Mapping, 30, 2907–2926.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Fishman, I., Keown, C. L., Lincoln, A. J., Pineda, J. A., Müller, R. A. (2014). Atypical cross talk between mentalizing and mirror neuron networks in autism spectrum disorder. JAMA Psychiatry, 71, 751–760.Google Scholar
- Hubbard, A. L., McNealy, K., Scott-Van Zeeland, A. A., Callan, D. E., Bookheimer, S. Y., Dapretto, M. (2012). Altered integration of speech and gesture in children with autism spectrum disorders. Brain and Behavior, 2, 606–619.Google Scholar
- Okamoto, Y., Kitada, R., Tanabe, H. C., Hayashi, M. J., Kochiyama, T., Munesue, T., et al. (2014). Attenuation of the contingency detection effect in the extrastriate body area in autism spectrum disorder. Neuroscience Research, 87, 66–76.Google Scholar
- Penny, W. D., & Holmes, A. P. (2004). Random effects analysis. In R. S. J. Frackowiak, K. J. Friston, R. Frith, K. J. Dolan, C. J. Price, S. Zeki, J. Ashburner, & W. D. Penny (Eds.), Human brain function (pp. 843–850). San Diego: Academic.Google Scholar
- Poulin-Lord, M. P., Barbeau, E. B., Soulières, I., Monchi, O., Doyon, J., Benali, H., et al. (2014). Increased topographical variability of task-related activation in perceptive and motor associative regions in adult autistics. Neuroimage Clinical, 4, 444–453.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Rozzi, S., Ferrari, P. F., Bonini, L., Rizzolatti, G., & Fogassi, L. (2008). Functional organization of inferior parietal lobule convexity in the macaque monkey: electrophysiological characterization of motor, sensory and mirror responses and their correlation with cytoarchitectonic areas. European Journal of Neuroscience, 28, 1569–1588.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Talairach, J., & Tournoux, P. (1988). Co-planar stereotaxic atlas of the human brain: 3-dimensional proportional system: An approach to cerebral imaging. Stuttgart: G. Thieme.Google Scholar