Mirror Neuron – Normal Movement Selectivity in Autism


Individuals with autism exhibited normal fMRI responses in mirror system regions

These responses include typical movement-selective adaptation to repeated movements

Responses were more variable across trial blocks than for control subjects


It has been proposed that individuals with autism have difficulties understanding the goals and intentions of others because of a fundamental dysfunction in the mirror neuron system. Here, however, we show that individuals with autism exhibited not only normal fMRI responses in mirror system areas during observation and execution of hand movements but also exhibited typical movement-selective adaptation (repetition suppression) when observing or executing the same movement repeatedly. Movement selectivity is a defining characteristic of neurons involved in movement perception, including mirror neurons, and, as such, these findings argue against a mirror system dysfunction in autism.