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J Autism Dev Disord. 2018 Feb;48(2):417-429. doi: 10.1007/s10803-017-3332-9.

White Matter Microstructure of the Human Mirror Neuron System is Related to Symptom Severity in Adults with Autism.

Author information

1
Department of Neurology, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE), Martinistraße 52, 20246, Hamburg, Germany. o.fruendt@uke.de.
2
Department of Neurology, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE), Martinistraße 52, 20246, Hamburg, Germany.
3
Department of Psychiatry, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE), Hamburg, Germany.
4
Department of Neurophysiology and Pathophysiology, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE), Hamburg, Germany.
5
Department of Pediatric and Adult Movement Disorders and Neuropsychiatry, Institute of Neurogenetics, University of Lübeck, Lübeck, Germany.

Abstract

Mirror neuron system (MNS) dysfunctions might underlie deficits in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Diffusion tensor imaging based probabilistic tractography was conducted in 15 adult ASD patients and 13 matched, healthy controls. Fractional anisotropy (FA) was quantified to assess group differences in tract-related white matter microstructure of both the classical MNS route (mediating "emulation") and the alternative temporo-frontal route (mediating "mimicry"). Multiple linear regression was used to investigate structure-function relationships between MNS connections and ASD symptom severity. There were no significant group differences in tract-related FA indicating an intact classical MNS in ASD. Direct temporo-frontal connections could not be reconstructed challengeing the concept of multiple routes for imitation. Tract-related FA of right-hemispheric parieto-frontal connections was negatively related to autism symptom severity.

KEYWORDS:

Autism spectrum disorders; Diffusion tensor imaging; Fiber tracking; Imitation; Mirror neuron system

PMID:
29027066
DOI:
10.1007/s10803-017-3332-9

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