Failure to deactivate in autism: the co-constitution of self and other

Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, NeuroPsychiatric Institute, Brain Research Institute, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.
Trends in Cognitive Sciences (Impact Factor: 21.15). 11/2006; 10(10):431-3. DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2006.08.002
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT A new brain imaging study demonstrates that patients with autism have a strikingly different pattern of brain activity compared with control subjects. During cognitive tasks, cortical areas known as the "default state" network--areas that have been implicated in both self-referential processing and processing of socially relevant information--typically reduce their brain activity. In patients with autism, such a reduction was not observed. This new finding indicates that a core deficit in autism might be related to the construal of a sense of self in its relationship with others and will certainly generate exciting new research on the neurobiology of autism.

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    • "e l s e v i e r . c o m / l o c a t e / n e u b i o r e v conceptualizations of the brain basis of ASD have taken a systemslevel approach, and proposed that ASD may be explained by abnormalities in the mirror neuron system (Oberman and Ramachandran, 2007; Williams et al., 2001), the default-mode network (Kennedy and Courchesne, 2008; Kennedy et al., 2006), or both (Iacoboni, 2006). These conceptualizations, however, have primarily focused on specific brain systems and have largely ignored the critical interactions between multiple distinct brain systems, which may be important for understanding the neurobiology of a complex neurodevelopmental disorder such as ASD. "
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    • "Functional MRI has shown that witnessing the emotions of others triggers neural activations in brain regions (insula and cingulate cortex) normally associated with feeling similar emotions oneself (Bastiaansen et al., 2009; Lamm et al., 2011), and witnessing what others do and sense recruits one's own motor and somatosensory cortices (Pineda, 2008; Keysers and Gazzola, 2009; Caspers et al., 2010; Keysers et al., 2010). The strength of these so called vicarious neural activations is predicted by interindividual differences in trait-empathy (Singer et al., 2004; Gazzola et al., 2006; Jabbi et al., 2007) and they are therefore thought to represent a neural marker for empathy (Singer et al., 2004; Iacoboni, 2006; Pineda, 2008; Bastiaansen et al., 2009; Keysers and Gazzola, 2009). These neural markers for empathy have been investigated in several psychiatric disorders, autism in particular (Dapretto et al., 2006; Decety and Moriguchi, 2007; Dinstein et al., 2008; Minio- Paluello et al., 2009), but surprisingly, not directly in psychopathy. "
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    • "A wide variety of tasks of social cognition cause activity here to increase above the resting baseline (Schreiber, 2011). Dysfunction in the area is implicated in autism, which is typically characterized by difficulty with reading the intentional states of others (Iacoboni, 2006; Minshew & Keller, 2010). While activations here are often found in competitive or cooperative contexts when we engage with other humans, the region does not activate in parallel contexts when the other player is a computer (McCabe, Houser, Ryan, Smith, & Trouard, 2001). "
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