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Similar Brain Activation during False Belief Tasks in a Large Sample of Adults with and without Autism

By Nicholas Paul Dufour, Elizabeth Redcay, Liane Young, Joseph M. Moran, Christina Triantafyllou, John D. E. Gabrieli, Penelope Mavros Rushton and Rebecca R. Saxe


Reading about another person’s beliefs engages ‘Theory of Mind’ processes and elicits highly reliable brain activation across individuals and experimental paradigms. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we examined activation during a story task designed to elicit Theory of Mind processing in a very large sample of neurotypical (N = 462) individuals, and a group of high-functioning individuals with autism spectrum disorders (N = 31), using both region-of-interest and whole-brain analyses. This large sample allowed us to investigate group differences in brain activation to Theory of Mind tasks with unusually high sensitivity. There were no differences between neurotypical participants and those diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. These results imply that the social cognitive impairments typical of autism spectrum disorder can occur without measurable changes in the size, location or response magnitude of activity during explicit Theory of Mind tasks administered to adults.Simons FoundationNational Science Foundation (U.S.) (Grant 095518)Charles A. Dana FoundationNational Science Foundation (U.S.). Graduate Research Fellowship Program (Grant 0645960)John Merck Scholars Program (Grant

Publisher: Public Library of Science
Year: 2013
DOI identifier: 10.1371/journal.pone.0075468
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Provided by: DSpace@MIT
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