A failure to grasp the affective meaning of actions in autism spectrum disorder subjects

Laboratoire de Neurosciences Cognitives, INSERM U960 & DEC, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, France.
Neuropsychologia (Impact Factor: 3.45). 08/2009; 47(8-9):1816-25. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2009.02.021
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The ability to grasp emotional messages in everyday gestures and respond to them is at the core of successful social communication. The hypothesis that abnormalities in socio-emotional behavior in people with autism are linked to a failure to grasp emotional significance conveyed by gestures was explored. We measured brain activity using fMRI during perception of fearful or neutral actions and showed that whereas similar activation of brain regions known to play a role in action perception was revealed in both autistics and controls, autistics failed to activate amygdala, inferior frontal gyrus and premotor cortex when viewing gestures expressing fear. Our results support the notion that dysfunctions in this network may contribute significantly to the characteristic communicative impairments documented in autism.

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Available from: Julie Grèzes, Jul 28, 2015
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    • "Based on the adult findings [Turella et al., 2012], we did not predict differences based on object presence in our selected areas within the TD group. As for the ASD group, we hypothesized that the frontal components may differentiate object from nonobject directed actions, and that there may be reduced activation in the IFG compared to the TD group, given previous findings [i.e., Bastiaansen et al., 2011; Dapretto et al, 2006; Grèzes et al., 2009; Martineau et al., 2010]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Social impairments in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) may be in part due to difficulty perceiving and recognizing the actions of others. Evidence from imitation studies, which involves both observation and execution of an action, suggests differences, in individuals with ASD, between the ability to imitate goal-directed actions involving objects (transitive actions) and the ability to imitate actions that do not involve objects (intransitive actions). In the present study, we examined whether there were differences in how ASD adolescents encoded transitive and intransitive actions compared to typically developing (TD) adolescents, by having participants view videos of a hand reaching across a screen toward an object or to where an object would be while functional magnetic resonance images were collected. Analyses focused on areas within the action observation network (AON), which is activated during the observation of actions performed by others. We hypothesized that the AON would differentiate transitive from intransitive actions only in the ASD group. However, results revealed that object presence modulated activity in the right inferior frontal gyrus and supramarginal gyrus of the TD group, a differentiation that was not seen in the ASD group. Furthermore, there were no significant group differences between the TD and ASD groups in any of the conditions. This suggests that there is not a global deficit of the AON in individuals with ASD while observing transitive and intransitive actions. Autism Res 2015. © 2015 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Autism Research 01/2015; DOI:10.1002/aur.1445 · 4.53 Impact Factor
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    • "In an fMRI study we conducted, atypical processing of emotional expressions in adults with ASD was found to be subtended by a weaker functional connectivity between the AMG and PM (Grèzes et al., 2009). Similarly, Gotts et al. (2012) showed, using a whole-brain functional connectivity approach in fMRI, a decoupling between brain regions in the evaluation of socially relevant signals from motor-related circuits in ASDs. "
    Brain Mapping: An Encyclopedic Reference, Edited by Arthur W. Toga, 01/2015: pages 1027-1030; Academic Press: Elsevier.
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    • "For example, individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), characterized by a unique profile of impaired social interaction and communication skills, display " a pervasive lack of responsiveness to others " and " marked impairments in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors to regulate social interactions " [American Psychiatric Association, 1994]. An fMRI study revealed that atypical processing of emotional expressions in adults with ASD was subtended by a weaker functional connectivity between the amygdala and the premotor cortex [Grèzes et al., 2009]. Similarly, Gotts et al., [2012] showed, using a whole-brain functional connectivity approach in fMRI, a decoupling between brain regions activated during the evaluation of socially relevant signals and motorrelated circuits in ASDs. "
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