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A systematic review of action imitation in autistic spectrum disorder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Author(s)

JHG Williams, Andrew Whiten, T Singh

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Imitative deficits have been associated with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) for many years, most recently through more robust methodologies. A fresh, systematic review of the significance, characteristics, and underlying mechanism of the association is therefore warranted. From 121 candidates, we focused on 21 well-controlled studies involving 281 cases of ASD. Overall, children with ASD performed worse on imitative tasks (Combined Logit p value<.00005). The emerging picture is of delayed development in imitation, implicating a deficit in mapping neural codings for actions between sensory and motor modalities, rather than in motivation or executive function. We hypothesise that ASD is characterised by abnormal development of these mappings, such that they are biased towards object-oriented tasks at the expense of those required for action imitation per se.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-299
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Volume34
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2004

    Research areas

  • imitation, gesture, action, autism, emulation, 'mirror neurons', YOUNG-CHILDREN, INFANT IMITATION, MOTOR IMITATION, MIRROR NEURONS, PRETEND PLAY, ABILITIES, MEMORY, ACTS, MIND, COMMUNICATION

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