Social decision making in autism: On the impact of mirror neurons, motor control, and imitative behaviors

Radwa Khalil, Richard Tindle, Thomas Boraud, Ahmed A. Moustafa, Ahmed A. Karim
CNS Neurosci Ther. 2018-07-02; 24(8): 669-676
DOI: 10.1111/cns.13001

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1. CNS Neurosci Ther. 2018 Aug;24(8):669-676. doi: 10.1111/cns.13001. Epub 2018 Jul

Social decision making in autism: On the impact of mirror neurons, motor control,
and imitative behaviors.

Khalil R(1)(2), Tindle R(3), Boraud T(4), Moustafa AA(5), Karim AA(2)(6).

Author information:
(1)Department of Psychology and Methods, Jacobs University Bremen, Bremen,
(2)Department of Prevention and Health Psychology, SRH Mobile University,
Riedlingen, Germany.
(3)CanTeen, Research Evaluation and Social Policy, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
(4)Institute of Neurodegenerative Diseases, CNRS UMR-5293, University of
Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France.
(5)Marcs Institute for Brain and Behavior, Western Sydney University, Sydney,
NSW, Australia.
(6)Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Tübingen, Tübingen,

The Mirror Neuron System (MNS) plays a crucial role in action perception and
imitative behavior, which is suggested to be impaired in Autism Spectrum
Disorders (ASDs). In this review, we discuss the plausibility and empirical
evidence of a neural interaction between the MNS, action perception, empathy,
imitative behavior, and their impact on social decision making in ASDs. To date,
there is no consensus regarding a particular theory in ASDs and its underlying
mechanisms. Some theories have completely focused on social difficulties, others
have emphasized sensory aspects. Based on the current studies, we suggest a
multilayer neural network model including the MNS on a first layer and
transforming this information to a higher layer network responsible for
reasoning. Future studies with ASD participants combining behavioral tasks with
neuroimaging methods and transcranial brain stimulation as well as computational
modeling can help validate and complement this suggested model. Moreover, we
propose applying the behavioral paradigms, and the neurophysiological markers
mentioned in this review article for evaluating psychiatric treatment approaches
in ASDs. The investigation of modulating effects of different treatment
approaches on the neurophysiological markers of the MNS can help find specific
subgroups of ASDs patients and support tailored psychiatric interventions.

© 2018 The Authors. CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics Published by John Wiley &
Sons Ltd.

DOI: 10.1111/cns.13001
PMCID: PMC6055683
PMID: 29963752

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