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Understanding Other MindsPerspectives from developmental social neuroscience$
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Simon Baron-Cohen, Michael Lombardo, and Helen Tager-Flusberg

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199692972

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199692972.001.0001

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Two systems for action comprehension in autism

Two systems for action comprehension in autism

Mirroring and mentalizing

(p.380) Chapter 21 Two systems for action comprehension in autism
Understanding Other Minds

Antonia Hamilton

Lauren Marsh

Oxford University Press

Action comprehension depends on both mirror neuron systems and mentalising systems in the brain; current evidence suggests that only the latter are abnormal in autism. In this chapter, we first describe the functions and anatomy of mirror neuron systems and mentalising systems during action comprehension tasks. We then evaluate these systems in autism. Both behavioural and fMRI data point to abnormal mentalising in autism. In contrast, both behavioural and fMRI data suggest that the mirror neuron system is largely intact in autism, at least in tasks requiring basic goal comprehension. We highlight the study of comprehension of irrational and complex actions as an interesting area for future research that may help us understand the integration of these different brain systems.

Keywords:   autism, social cognition, mirror neuron system, fmri, theory of mind, rationality

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