Imitation, mirror neurons and autism

Williams, JHG, Whiten, A, Suddendorf, T and Perrett, DI (2001) Imitation, mirror neurons and autism. Neuroscience And Biobehavioral Reviews, 25 4: 287-295. doi:10.1016/S0149-7634(01)00014-8

Author Williams, JHG
Whiten, A
Suddendorf, T
Perrett, DI
Title Imitation, mirror neurons and autism
Journal name Neuroscience And Biobehavioral Reviews   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0149-7634
Publication date 2001-01-01
Year available 2001
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.1016/S0149-7634(01)00014-8
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 25
Issue 4
Start page 287
End page 295
Total pages 9
Editor S. Cooper
A. Kelley
Place of publication New York ; Oxford, UK
Publisher Elsevier Science/Pergamon
Language eng
Subject C1
380103 Biological Psychology (Neuropsychology, Psychopharmacology, Physiological Psychology)
780108 Behavioural and cognitive sciences
Abstract Various deficits in the cognitive functioning of people with autism have been documented in recent years but these provide only partial explanations for the condition. We focus instead on an imitative disturbance involving difficulties both in copying actions and in inhibiting more stereotyped mimicking, such as echolalia. A candidate for the neural basis of this disturbance may be found in a recently discovered class of neurons in frontal cortex, 'mirror neurons' (MNs). These neurons show activity in relation both to specific actions performed by self and matching actions performed by others, providing a potential bridge between minds. MN systems exist in primates without imitative and 'theory of mind' abilities and we suggest that in order for them to have become utilized to perform social cognitive functions, sophisticated cortical neuronal systems have evolved in which MNs function as key elements. Early developmental failures of MN systems are likely to result in a consequent cascade of developmental impairments characterised by the clinical syndrome of autism. Crown Copyright (C) 2001 Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keyword Behavioral Sciences
Mirror Neurons
'theory Of Mind'
Grasp Representations
Executive Functions
Spectrum Disorders
Premotor Cortex
Temporal Cortex
Q-Index Code C1
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes This document is a journal review.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collection: School of Psychology Publications
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Created: Wed, 15 Aug 2007, 01:05:11 EST