Looks like you’re on the UK site. Choose another location to see content specific to your location

Home Industry News Autism breakthrough finds broken mirror neurons

Autism breakthrough finds broken mirror neurons

6th December 2005

New research into the causes of autism has found children with the condition have no activity in a key part of the brain that allows understanding of other people’s emotions.

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) work has found that children with autism have little mirror neuron activity.

Mirror neurons fire when a person performs a goal-directed action and while they observe the same action performed by others.

It is believed this system provides a neural mechanism by which the actions of others and their intentions and emotions can be understood automatically.

Mirella Dapretto, lead author of the study, said: “Our findings suggest that a dysfunctional mirror neuron system may underlie the social deficits observed in autism.

“Together with other recent data, our results provide strong support for a mirror neuron theory of autism. This is exciting because we finally have an account that can explain all core symptoms of this disorder.”

During the study, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, 20 children, some with and some without autism, had brain scans while they were shown pictures showing different emotions such as anger, fear, happiness or sadness.

The low levels of mirror neuron activity matched other tests that showed levels of the children’s ability to socially interact.

The children with autism also showed reduced activity in the emotion centres of the brain, consistent with the belief that the mirroring mechanism plays a crucial role for understanding how others feel and for empathising with them.

British charity The National Autistic Society estimates that about 535,000 people in the UK have autism.

track© Adfero Ltd

We currently have 6 jobs available in Pharmacy industry, find your perfect one now.

Stay informed

Receive the latest industry news, Tips
and straight to your inbox.