Imitation, mirror neurons and autism

Justin Hereward Gwilym Williams, A. Whiten, T. Suddendorf, D. I. Perrett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

606 Citations (Scopus)

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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-295
Number of pages8
JournalNeuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews
Volume25
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2001

Keywords

  • imitation
  • mirror neurons
  • autism
  • 'Theory of mind'
  • GRASP REPRESENTATIONS
  • EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONS
  • SPECTRUM DISORDERS
  • PREMOTOR CORTEX
  • TEMPORAL CORTEX
  • MIND
  • CHILDREN
  • LOCALIZATION
  • RECOGNITION
  • ACTIVATION

Cite this

Imitation, mirror neurons and autism. / Williams, Justin Hereward Gwilym; Whiten, A.; Suddendorf, T.; Perrett, D. I.

In: Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, Vol. 25, No. 4, 2001, p. 287-295.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Williams, Justin Hereward Gwilym ; Whiten, A. ; Suddendorf, T. ; Perrett, D. I. / Imitation, mirror neurons and autism. In: Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 2001 ; Vol. 25, No. 4. pp. 287-295.
@article{e2c1c80c4b664ae58ca71f8663594aa1,
title = "Imitation, mirror neurons and autism",
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.",
keywords = "imitation, mirror neurons, autism, 'Theory of mind', GRASP REPRESENTATIONS, EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONS, SPECTRUM DISORDERS, PREMOTOR CORTEX, TEMPORAL CORTEX, MIND, CHILDREN, LOCALIZATION, RECOGNITION, ACTIVATION",
author = "Williams, {Justin Hereward Gwilym} and A. Whiten and T. Suddendorf and Perrett, {D. I.}",
year = "2001",
doi = "10.1016/S0149-7634(01)00014-8",
language = "English",
volume = "25",
pages = "287--295",
journal = "Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews",
issn = "0149-7634",
publisher = "PERGAMON-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD",
number = "4",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Imitation, mirror neurons and autism

AU - Williams, Justin Hereward Gwilym

AU - Whiten, A.

AU - Suddendorf, T.

AU - Perrett, D. I.

PY - 2001

Y1 - 2001

N2 - 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.

AB - 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.

KW - imitation

KW - mirror neurons

KW - autism

KW - 'Theory of mind'

KW - GRASP REPRESENTATIONS

KW - EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONS

KW - SPECTRUM DISORDERS

KW - PREMOTOR CORTEX

KW - TEMPORAL CORTEX

KW - MIND

KW - CHILDREN

KW - LOCALIZATION

KW - RECOGNITION

KW - ACTIVATION

U2 - 10.1016/S0149-7634(01)00014-8

DO - 10.1016/S0149-7634(01)00014-8

M3 - Article

VL - 25

SP - 287

EP - 295

JO - Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews

JF - Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews

SN - 0149-7634

IS - 4

ER -