Electroencephalography Measures (mirror neurons) of Social Attention and Skills in Children with Autism
Based on the effectiveness of ABA social skills training and the
atypical mirror neurons (MN’s) recently observed in children with autism while
watching social interactions, we hypothesize that ABA intervention might be
correlated with enhanced mu suppression in autism. Specifically, if improvement
in social skills is a function of increased activation of MN’s, we should find
greater mu suppression after ABA training compared to before training.
It is expected that ABA treatment will have significant effects
on mu wave suppression. While the autism control group is not expected to
demonstrate changes in mu suppression, and the neurotypical control group is
expected to show little or no change, the experimental autism group is expected
to show significant increase in mu wave suppression.Such a difference would be
taken to reflect the involvement of MN dysfunction in impaired social function
in autism as well as the efficacy of ABA treatment.
It is expected that training of social skills is a function of
training the MN’s to respond appropriately to actions and intentions of others.
Significant findings of this study would be of sufficient theoretical and
clinical importance to warrant attention of the research and the clinical
communities and would warrant publication in a top peer-reviewed journal.
This project will begin in 2008 with initial funding from the College of
Social and Behavioral Sciences and in collaboration with Chad Woodruff, PhD
from the Department of Psychology and Andrew Gardner, PhD Undergraduate and
graduate students from Northern Arizona University will also participate.