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Motor Output & Mirror Cell Systems in Autism Studied by Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (funded through NAAR)

Many individuals with autism demonstrate difficulty performing simple motor imitation. This project used a method called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to study the motor cortex and mirror cell system in adults with Asperger’s syndrome. Dr. Theoret assessed the integrity of the motor cortex and mirror neuron system to gain insight into the basic cortical dysfunction that may lead to autism spectrum disorders. Dr. Theoret used this information to investigate how these abnormalities interact with emotional processing and self-awareness, two areas of human cognition believed to be impaired in autism. The insights derived from these experiments have the potential to increase our understanding of the causes of autism and lead to new therapeutic interventions.