Social stress: Brain circuitry fails to connect in children with autism
The holidays can be difficult for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), particularly because of new or different social situations. One reason scientists believe ASD causes impairment in social interactions is due to an inability to effectively infer other's thoughts and feelings through "theory of mind," or ToM—the ability to understand the mental states of others and oneself.
An innovative brain imaging study has uncovered new evidence explaining why ToM deficiencies are present in ASD children. Published in Molecular Autism, the research reveals disruptions in the brain's circuitry involved in ToM at multiple levels compared to typical brain functioning. The findings provide valuable insight into understanding the functional makeup of a vital neural network that is critical for characterizing the social symptoms in individuals with ASD.
"Reduced brain activity in ToM-related brain regions and reduced connectivity among these regions in children with autism suggest how deficits in the neurobiological mechanisms can lead to difficulties in cognitive and behavioral functioning, such as theory of mind," said Marcel Just, the D.O. Hebb University Professor of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University. "Weaker coordination and communication among core brain areas during social thinking tasks in autism provides evidence for how different brain areas in autism struggle to work together as a team."
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- 15th December 2015
- Medical Xpress