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The Mirror Neuron Theory of Autism Manuscript

The Mirror Neuron Theory of Autism Manuscript

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Published by Zack Tedder
A Lit Review of the Mirror Neuron Theory of Autism, and identification of Mirror Neuronal Theory.
A Lit Review of the Mirror Neuron Theory of Autism, and identification of Mirror Neuronal Theory.

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Published by: Zack Tedder on Apr 18, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Running head: THE MIRROR NEURON THEORY OF AUTISMThe Mirror Neuron Theory of AutismA Literature ReviewZackery A. Tedder Texas State University ± San Marcos
AbstractMirror Neurons have been a source of research since they were discovered in the early 1990s.Ongoing research is attempting to identify any link between deficits in Autism SpectrumDisorder (ASD) and a dysfunctional Mirror Neuron system. While no specific link is currentlysupported by existing literature, current research is attempting to show how deficits in thissystem might be associated with the manifestation of ASD symptomology. This literature reviewexplores the identification of Mirror Neurons, cites several aspects of their implications in ASD,and observes criticisms in existing literature.
The Mirror Neuron Theory of Autism
Mirror Neurons (MNs) are described as a mechanism that helps us learn throughobservation, and are a certain type of neuron that fires while performing an action, and whenobserving a similar action in others (Rizzolatti, 2005). These neurons have been an area of studysince their discovery in the early 1990s by Giacomo Rizzolatti, Giuseppe Di Pallegrino, LucianoFadiga, Leonardo Fogassi, and Vittorio Gallese (Rizzolatti &Fabbri-Destro, 2010). While thei purpose has been highly hypothesized, their true purpose has yet to be determined.Rizzolatti describes their hypothesized purpose are essential the following roles: ³actionunderstanding, imitation, intention understanding, and empathy (Rizzolatti, 2005; Rizzolatti&Arbib, 1998).´There is a considerable amount of evidence pertaining to MNs, but as of yet, it isconsiderably indirect. Rizzolatti also points out ³there is no single-neuron study showing theexistence of mirror neurons (2005)In short, the jury is still out on the concreteness of evidence produced in current research.Along with the hypothesized functions listed above, a connection to the language centersof the brain show some implication in the MN system. The
 pars opercularis
(posterior part) of the Inferior Frontal Gyrus paired with the
 pars triangularus
make up Broca¶s area (Greenlee,Oya, Kawasaki, Volkov, Severson, Howard, &Brugge, 2007). It is hypothesized that Broca¶sarea has greater function than just language development, but also is implicit in motor taskshaving to do with execution, imagination, imitation, and observation of finger movements(Heiser, Iacoboni, Maeda, Marcus, &Mazziotta, 2003; Grafton, Arbib, Fadiga, & Rizzolatti,1996; Krams, Rushworth, Deiber, Frackowiak, &Passingham, 1998; Iacoboni, Woods, Brass,Bekkering, Mazziotta, & Rizzolatti, 1999; Binkofski, Amunts, Stephan, Posse, Schormann,Freund, Zilles, & Seitz, 2000). These critical functions together have vast implications directly

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