Social cognition in autism. A survey of functional imaging studies
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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