Social cognition in autism. A survey of functional imaging studies

Klinik und Poliklinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie, Zentrum für Nervenheilkunde der Universität Rostock, Gehlsheimer Strasse 20, 18147 Rostock.
Der Nervenarzt (Impact Factor: 0.86). 04/2008; 79(3):261-74. DOI: 10.1007/s00115-008-2409-2
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Autism spectrum disorders (autism, Asperger's syndrome, high-functioning autism) are characterized by a common pattern of marked impairments in social interactions. Deficits have been described in face processing, facial emotion recognition, and social attribution ("theory of mind") or generally speaking in social cognition. Some studies have shown that these impairments are already detectable in early childhood, leading to the assumption that the underlying cause is an early disruption of neuronal development. Accordingly, neuroimaging data have revealed alterations of structure and function in the brains of autistic children, adolescents, and adults. The present review gives a systematic overview of the existing literature on functional imaging studies using experimental paradigms of social cognition, i.e. face discrimination, facial emotion recognition, and theory of mind in autistic disorders.

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    ABSTRACT: Die stetig steigende Anzahl funktionell und strukturell bildgebender Studien in den letzten 2 Jahrzehnten hat maßgeblich zum Verständnis der neurobiologischen Basis von Autismusspektrumstörungen (,,autism spectrum disorders“ ASD) beigetragen. Der Artikel gibt einen Überblick über Studien zu den neuronalen Grundlagen der Symptomtrias (Störung der sozialen Interaktion und Kommunikation, repetitives und restriktives Verhalten) und zu angenommenen zugrunde liegenden neuropsychologischen Beeinträchtigungen (Theory of Mind, Exekutivfunktionen, zentrale Kohärenz), ergänzt durch konsistente Befunde zu strukturellen Veränderungen des Gehirns. Die Forschungsergebnisse zeigen, dass, obwohl kognitive Funktionen bei ASD generell durch die gleichen Gehirnareale vermittelt werden wie bei typisch entwickelten Menschen, sich das Ausmaß der Aktivierungen, vor allem aber die Aktivierungsmuster unterscheiden. Zunehmend setzt sich daher die Hypothese einer geringeren Konnektivität rekrutierter kortikaler Netzwerke gegen die Annahme durch, dass einzelne Gehirnareale betroffen sind.
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