7,142 research outputs found

    Neural endophenotypes of social behaviour in autism spectrum conditions

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    Autism is characterized by qualitative impairments in social interaction, communication, and stereotyped repetitive behaviors and/or restricted interests. Beyond these diagnostic criteria, autism is viewed as a neurodevelopmental condition with possibly several etiologies that manifest in complex patterns of atypical structural and functional brain development, cognition, and behavior. Despite the multidimensional nature of and substantial variation within the autism spectrum, impairments in social interaction remain among the most visible hallmarks of the condition. It is this profound developmental deficit in the social domain that makes autism a unique case in the field of social neuroscience. This chapter contributes to the dialogue amongst both the fields of autism research and social neuroscience by deliberately taking the stance of asking how we can understand more about the etiological mechanisms underlying social behavior in autism. It presents a multi-level overview of the literature on the behavioral, neural, and genetic underpinnings of social functioning in autism spectrum conditions (ASC). The main objective is to highlight the current state of the field regarding theory of mind/empathy difficulties in ASC, and then to suggest distinct candidate neural endophenotypes that can bridge the gap between social behavior and genetic mechanisms

    Body Language Without a Body: Nonverbal Communication in Technology Mediated Settings

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    Humans are wired for face-to-face interaction because this was the only possible and available setting during the long evolutionary process that has led to Homo Sapiens. At the moment an increasingly significant fraction of our interactions take place in technology mediated settings, it is important to investigate how such a wiring - mainly corresponding to neural processes - reacts and adapts to them. This talk focuses in particular on how nonverbal communication - one of the main channels through which people convey socially and psychologically relevant information - plays a role in settings where natural nonverbal cues (facial expressions, vocalizations, gestures, etc.) are no longer available. Such an issue is important not only from a technological point of view (it can help to design interaction and communication technologies that better address human needs), but also from a societal one (it can help to understand major phenomena such as cyberbullyism and virality)

    Genetic contribution to 'theory of mind' in adolescence.

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    Difficulties in 'theory of mind' (the ability to attribute mental states to oneself or others, and to make predictions about another's behaviour based on these attributions) have been observed in several psychiatric conditions. We investigate the genetic architecture of theory of mind in 4,577 13-year-olds who completed the Emotional Triangles Task (Triangles Task), a first-order test of theory of mind. We observe a small but significant female-advantage on the Triangles Task (Cohen's d = 0.19, P < 0.01), in keeping with previous work using other tests of theory of mind. Genome-wide association analyses did not identify any significant loci, and SNP heritability was non-significant. Polygenic scores for six psychiatric conditions (ADHD, anorexia, autism, bipolar disorder, depression, and schizophrenia), and empathy were not associated with scores on the Triangles Task. However, polygenic scores of cognitive aptitude, and cognitive empathy, a term synonymous with theory of mind and measured using the "Reading the Mind in the Eyes" Test, were significantly associated with scores on the Triangles Task at multiple P-value thresholds, suggesting shared genetics between different measures of theory of mind and cognition

    Measuring Empathizing and Systemizing with a Large US Sample

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    A large number of people completed one of two versions of the empathizing quotient (EQ) and systemizing quotient (SQ). One version had the negatively phrased items all re-worded. These re-worded items were answered more rapidly than the original items, and for the SQ produced a more reliable scale. Subjects gave self-assessments of empathizing and systemizing, and these were moderately correlated, r≈.6, with their respective quotients. Females had on average higher empathizing scores and males had on average higher systemizing scores. If a female-male pair was chosen at random, the female would have the higher empathizing score about two-thirds of the time, and the males would have the higher systemizing score about two-thirds of the time

    DSM-5: the debate continues.

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    We are fortunate to have invited commentaries from the laboratories of Dr Cathy Lord and Dr Fred Volkmar offering their perspectives on the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)-5 criteria for the autism spectrum. Both commentaries note how DSM-5 collapses the earlier diagnostic categories of the pervasive developmental disorders into a single category of autism spectrum disorder. In addition, DSM-5 collapses social and communication domains into a single combined domain. The commentaries go on to discuss the positive aspects of these changes and raise some areas of potential concern. We support the evidence-based changes to autism diagnosis found in DSM-5, and look forward to further studies on the autism phenotype as this has implications for diagnosis and treatment. As our mechanistic understanding of autism improves, diagnoses based on behavioral parameters will continue to provide opportunities for interventions targeting the behaviors, while etiological diagnoses will provide opportunities for interventions tailored to etiology.RIGHTS : This article is licensed under the BioMed Central licence at http://www.biomedcentral.com/about/license which is similar to the 'Creative Commons Attribution Licence'. In brief you may : copy, distribute, and display the work; make derivative works; or make commercial use of the work - under the following conditions: the original author must be given credit; for any reuse or distribution, it must be made clear to others what the license terms of this work are

    An islet of social ability in Asperger Syndrome: Judging social attributes from faces

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    We asked adults with Asperger Syndrome to judge pictorial stimuli in terms of certain social stereotypes to evaluate to what extent they have access to this type of social knowledge. Sixteen adults with Asperger Syndrome and 24 controls, matched for age and intelligence, were presented with sets of faces, bodies and objects, which had to be rated on a 7-point scale in terms of trustworthiness, attractiveness, social status, and age, or, in the case of objects, price. Despite impaired performance on two important aspects of social cognition (second-order mentalizing and face recognition) the social judgements of the individuals with Asperger Syndrome were just as competent and consistent as those of their matched controls, with only one exception: there was a trend for them to be less able to judge the attractiveness of faces if they were the same sex. We explain this difference in terms of a weakness in mentalizing, specifically the ability to take a different point of view: While all other stereotypic attributions could be made from an egocentric point of view, judging the attractiveness of faces of one's own sex requires taking the perspective of someone of the opposite sex, a challenge for people with mentalizing problems. We conclude that individuals with Asperger Syndrome show preserved aspects of social knowledge, as revealed in the attribution of stereotypes to pictures of people. These findings suggest that there are dissociable subcomponents to social cognition and that not all of these are compromised in Asperger Syndrome