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.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)