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Rev Neurol. 2009 Feb 27;48 Suppl 2:S27-9.

[Infantile autism and mirror neurons].

[Article in Spanish]

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Departamento de Neurología Pediátrica, Hospital de Alta Especialidad del Niño Dr. Rodolfo Nieto Padrón, División de Ciencias de la Salud, Universidad Juárez Autónoma de Tabasco, Villahermosa, Tabasco, México.



Infantile autism is a disorder that is characterised by alterations affecting reciprocal social interactions, abnormal verbal and non-verbal communication, poor imaginative activity and a restricted repertoire of activities and interests. The causes of autism remain unknown, but there are a number of different approaches that attempt to explain the neurobiological causes of the syndrome. A recent theory that has been considered is that of a dysfunction in the mirror neuron system (MNS).


The MNS is a neuronal complex, originally described in monkeys and also found in humans, that is related with our movements and which offers specific responses to the movements and intended movements of other subjects. This system is believed to underlie processes of imitation and our capacity to learn by imitation. It is also thought to play a role in language acquisition, in expressing the emotions, in understanding what is happening to others and in empathy. Because these functions are altered in children with autism, it has been suggested that there is some dysfunction present in the MNS of those with autism.


Dysfunction of the MNS could account for the symptoms that are observed in children with autism.

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