Professor Christian Keysers discusses the proposed association between autism and mirror neurons, a very hot topic in autism research.
Now there has been a lot of interest in autism and its link to the mirror [neuron] system, but so far a lot of studies are really conflicting. There is some very nice evidence in kids of about 10 years with autism seem to recruit their own pre-motor cortex less while they are seeing the emotions of other people, but newer studies show for instance that some adults actually activate their own pre-motor cortex even more when they have autism than if they don’t. So we are still trying to understand where the link exactly is; I think it is going to continue to be an interesting topic in autism, but right now it would seem certainly simplified to say that autism is simply a broken mirror [neuron] system. It seems to be more complex than that, and the questions that are more interesting now is to understand under what circumstances, in what subtype maybe of autism may have problems in the mirror [neuron] system.