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J Autism Dev Disord. 2001 Feb;31(1):79-88.

Movement preparation in high-functioning autism and Asperger disorder: a serial choice reaction time task involving motor reprogramming.

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  • 1Neuropsychology Research Unit, Department of Psychology, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia, 3168.


Autism and Asperger disorder have long been associated with movement abnormalities, although the neurobehavioural details of these abnormalities remain poorly defined. Clumsiness has traditionally been associated with Asperger disorder but not autism, although this is controversial. Others have suggested that both groups demonstrate a similar global motor delay. In this study we aimed to determine whether movement preparation or movement execution was atypical in these disorders and to describe any differences between autism and Asperger disorder. A simple motor reprogramming task was employed. The results indicated that individuals with autism and Asperger disorder have atypical movement preparation with an intact ability to execute movement. An atypical deficit in motor preparation was found in Asperger disorder, whereas movement preparation was characterized by a "lack of anticipation" in autism. The differences in movement preparation profiles in these disorders were suggested to reflect differential involvement of the fronto-striatal region, in particular the supplementary motor area and anterior cingulate.

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