International Meeting for Autism Research (London, May 15-17, 2008): Electrophysiological indexes of mirroring in ASD and neurotypical individuals

Electrophysiological indexes of mirroring in ASD and neurotypical individuals

Friday, May 16, 2008: 1:45 PM
Avize-Morangis (Novotel London West)
L. Oberman , Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA
Long before the term “mirror neuron” was coined in the mid 1990’s evidence for a shared motor observation-execution mechanism could be found in the human EEG and EMG literature. Studies dating back to 1954 find that, similar to mirror neurons, EEG mu oscillations respond specifically to self-performed, observed and imagined actions (Cochin, Barthelemy, Lejeune, Roux, & Martineau, 1998; Gastaut&Bert, 1954; Pineda et al., 2000). Behavioral and EMG Studies as early as those performed by Darwin indicate that when individuals are in the presence of others, the observer tends to synchronize his or her movements to match those of the others (Condon & Ogston, 1967; Darwin, 1872/1965; Kendon, 1970). Upon the discovery of the mirror neuron system (MNS) in the macaque by Rizzolatti and colleagues (Di Pellegrino et al., 1992) using single-unit electrophysiology, researchers began to wonder if these newly discovered neurons may underlie the electrophysiological findings from decades prior. This presentation will discuss recent studies investigating the MNS in typically developing individuals as well as individuals with ASD through the use of EEG and EMG. These electrophysiological indices provide a noninvasive, inexpensive option that is well suited for use with clinical populations. Findings suggest that there is a dysfunction in the MNS in ASD, however, our studies suggest that this dysfunction is not likely to be primary, but rather an indirect consequence of abnormalities in developmental mechanisms involved in cortical plasticity.