Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mirror neurons are normal in autists

This overturns one of my pet conjectures. Researchers have found that the mirror neuron system in autists functions normally. It was lots of people's pet theory, and there had been some evidence that the system was weak in autists, but:
To further test this influential theory, the researchers asked individuals with autism and a control group to observe and execute different hand movements while being scanned with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The fMRI measurements allowed the researchers to infer the strength of neural responses in mirror system areas of each group during movement observation and execution. Their results showed that mirror system areas of individuals with autism not only responded strongly during movement observation, but did so in a movement-selective manner such that different movements exhibited unique neural responses. The mirror system responses of individuals with autism were, therefore, equivalent to those commonly reported (and observed here) for controls.
These results, they conclude, argue strongly against the "dysfunctional mirror system hypothesis of autism" because they show that mirror system areas respond normally in individuals with autism.
That's the way science works. Ya makes yer best guess, and then somebody comes along and proves ya wrong.

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