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12 May 2010 by Ewen Callaway

People with autism seem to have normal “mirror” neurons after all. A popular theory has it that these neurons – brain cells that fire both when you perform an action and when you watch someone else doing the same thing – don’t work properly in people with autism. Now it looks as though that isn’t so.

The idea was that malfunctioning mirror neurons underlie the difficulties that people with autism have in interpreting the intentions of others. It seemed to be backed up by studies in which the brain activity of normal and autistic people was measured while they watched and performed simple actions, such as hand movements. In many, but not all of these studies, brain areas rich with mirror neurons proved less active in the people with autism.

But Ilan Dinstein, a neuroscientist at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel, says other differences besides faulty mirror neurons could explain these results. For instance, if it turns out that people with autism imitate or detect hand movements more slowly than others, brain scans could mistake this delay for dysfunction in mirror neurons, he says.

Read in Full:  http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18837-mirror-neurons-seen-behaving-normally-in-autism.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news



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