Article

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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    • "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. "
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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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