Relating Autism and Mirror Neurons

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Whenever John and his mother drive to Rite Aid, he insists that they take the same route every single time. Whenever he steps into a new Rite Aid, he must walk around for five to ten minutes and when he would come home, he would draw a perfectly memorized layout of the floor plan of that particular drug store. Often times, it is difficult for John to make eye contact with others, and instead he may fidget, rock his body back and forth, or even hit his head against the wall. These abnormal behaviors can be attributed to the fact that John was diagnosed with a disorder called Autism at the age of three. Autism is a behavioral syndrome related to differences in brain functioning and sensory responses. The disorder impacts normal development of the brain in such areas as social interaction and communication skills, leading to a deficit in these areas. Recent studies have attributed this deficit and struggle with social interaction in children with autism to the mirror-neuron system not functioning properly. Researchers found that mirror neurons preform the same functions that are disrupted in Autism. Therefore, it can be hypothesized that one cause of Autism is a dysfunctional mirror-neuron system, given that the presumed functions of these class of neurons – such as empathy, intention-reading, mimicry, pretend play, and language learning- are deficient in autism. Studying the unexpected relationship between mirror neurons and autism is vital because this may have implications for the development of early behavioral interventions aimed at training basic mechanisms supported by the mirror-neuron system, rather than attempting to correct higher levels of complex behaviors. Mirror neurons are a newly discovered, specific class of ner... ... middle of paper ... ...m. This many have implications for the development of early behavioral interventions aimed at triaging basic mechanisms supported by the mirror-neuron system, rather than correcting more complex behaviors. Works Cited Hulman, John. University Of California, San Diego. "Autism Linked To Mirror Neuron Dysfunction.”ScienceDaily, 18 Apr. 2005. 1-4.Web. 29 Nov. 2013. Hadjikhani, Nouchine. “Mirror Neuron System and Autism.” Nova Science Publishers, 2007. 151-166. Print. Ramachandran, Vilayanur S., and Lindsay S. Oberman. "Broken Mirrors: A Theory of Autism." Scientific American Journal. (2006): 62-69. Web. 29 Nov. 2013. Ramachandran, V.S. Interview by Jason Marsh. "Do Mirror Neurons Give Us Empathy?" Empathy. 29 Mar 2012. University of California, Berkeley. 29 Mar 2012. Print. Ramachandran, V.S. The Tell-Tale Brain. New York: Norton & Company, Inc., 2011. 58-152. Print.

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