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Self awareness big problem for autistics

14th December 2009

Researchers at the University of Cambridge say they have found evidence that proves why self awareness is difficult for people with autistic spectrum disorders.

confusion

The team performed brain scans of people with the condition and found certain parts of their brains were "less active" when the subjects were thinking about themselves.

The scans point to the reason why autistic people have problems functioning in social situations.

The researchers carried out functional magnetic resource scans of 66 male subjects. Half of the subjects had an autistic spectrum disorder.

The team asked the volunteers to judge their own thoughts and decisions, and also another person's (the researchers used the Queen as an example).

The team scanned the participants' brains as they answered the questions and were able to spot difference in the scans of the autistic volunteers. They looked carefully at activity in the ventromedial pre-frontal cortex, which is active when a person thinks about himself or herself.

The researchers found that in the "typical" subjects, this area was more active when they considered themselves, rather than the Queen.

However, in autistic participants the area "responded equally" regardless of the question.

Researcher Michael Lombardo said the study showed that the autistic brain struggled to to process information about the self.

He said: "Navigating social interactions with others requires keeping track of the relationship between oneself and others."

"The atypical way the autistic brain treats self-relevant information as equivalent to information about others could derail a child's social development, particularly in understanding how they relate to the social world around them." 

 

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Article Information

Title: Self awareness big problem for autistics
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 13505
Date Added: 14th Dec 2009

Sources

BBC News

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