68 research outputs found

    Intentional Minds: A Philosophical Analysis of Intention Tested through fMRI Experiments Involving People with Schizophrenia, People with Autism, and Healthy Individuals

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    In this paper we show how we empirically tested one of the most relevant topics in philosophy of mind through a series of fMRI experiments: the classification of different types of intention. To this aim, firstly we trace a theoretical distinction among private, prospective, and communicative intentions. Second, we propose a set of predictions concerning the recognition of these three types of intention in healthy individuals, and we report the experimental results corroborating our theoretical model of intention. Third, we derive from our model predictions relevant for the domain of psychopathological functioning. In particular, we treat the cases of both hyper-intentionality (as in paranoid schizophrenia) and hypo-intentionality (as in autistic spectrum disorders). Our conclusion is that the theoretical model of intention we propose contributes to enlarge our knowledge on the neurobiological bases of intention processing, in both healthy people and in people with impairments to the neurocognitive system that underlies intention recognition

    Schizophrenia and Autism as Contrasting Minds: Neural Evidence for the Hypo-Hyper-Intentionality Hypothesis

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    Both schizophrenia (SCZ) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are characterized by mentalizing problems and associated neural dysfunction of the social brain. However, the deficits in mental state attribution are somehow opposed: Whereas patients with SCZ tend to over-attribute intentions to agents and physical events ("hyper-intentionality”), patients with autism treat people as devoid of intentions ("hypo-intentionality”). Here we aimed to investigate whether this hypo-hyper-intentionality hypothesis can be supported by neural evidence during a mentalizing task. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we investigated the neural responses and functional connectivity during reading others intention. Scanning was performed in 23 individuals with ASD, 18 with paranoid SCZ and 23 gender and IQ matched control subjects. Both clinical groups showed reduced brain activation compared to controls for the contrast intentional vs physical information processing in left posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS) and ventral medial prefrontal cortex (vMPFC) for SCZ, and right pSTS in ASD. As predicted, these effects were caused in a group specific way: Relative increased activation for physical information processing in SCZ that was also correlated with positive PANNS score and relative decreased activation for intentional information processing in ASD. Additionally, we could demonstrate opposed connectivity patterns between the right pSTS and vMPFC in the clinical groups, ie, increased for SCZ, decreased for ASD. These findings represent opposed neural signatures in key regions of the social brain as predicted by the hyper-hypo-intentionality hypothesi

    A Comparison between Schizophrenia and Autism

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    Autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia share a substantial number of etiologic and phenotypic characteristics. Still, no direct comparison of both disorders has been performed to identify differences and commonalities in brain structure. In this voxel based morphometry study, 34 patients with autism spectrum disorder, 21 patients with schizophrenia and 26 typically developed control subjects were included to identify global and regional brain volume alterations. No global gray matter or white matter differences were found between groups. In regional data, patients with autism spectrum disorder compared to typically developed control subjects showed smaller gray matter volume in the amygdala, insula, and anterior medial prefrontal cortex. Compared to patients with schizophrenia, patients with autism spectrum disorder displayed smaller gray matter volume in the left insula. Disorder specific positive correlations were found between mentalizing ability and left amygdala volume in autism spectrum disorder, and hallucinatory behavior and insula volume in schizophrenia. Results suggest the involvement of social brain areas in both disorders. Further studies are needed to replicate these findings and to quantify the amount of distinct and overlapping neural correlates in autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia

    A Close Eye on the Eagle-Eyed Visual Acuity Hypothesis of Autism

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    Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have been associated with sensory hypersensitivity. A recent study reported visual acuity (VA) in ASD in the region reported for birds of prey. The validity of the results was subsequently doubted. This study examined VA in 34 individuals with ASD, 16 with schizophrenia (SCH), and 26 typically developing (TYP). Participants with ASD did not show higher VA than those with SCH and TYP. There were no substantial correlations of VA with clinical severity in ASD or SCH. This study could not confirm the eagle-eyed acuity hypothesis of ASD, or find evidence for a connection of VA and clinical phenotypes. Research needs to further address the origins and circumstances associated with altered sensory or perceptual processing in ASD
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