Project Detail
Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) logo
Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC) logo

The mirror neuron system in children with autism  

Dr. Bernier will explore a potential link between mirror neuron dysfunction and autism. Bernier's study is based on an early intervention designed to increase cognitive and social skills in children with autism. The study will include three groups of children who completed the trial — those with autism who received the intervention, those who didn't, and typically developing controls. Bernier plans to use electroencephalography to detect electrical activity associated with activated mirror neurons in the children while they observe and attempt to imitate a task. Comparing activation patterns among the three groups may indicate whether the intervention can help normalize mirror neuron function. Bernier hypothesizes that the dysfunction of mirror neurons in individuals with autism is caused by a lack of experience with social interaction. The social experience provided by the trial intervention might therefore help improve mirror neuron function in children with autism. Bernier plans to perform similar comparisons of mirror neuron activity between children from the three groups while they watch an adult perform hand and facial movements. He also plans to test the effect of non-biological stimuli, such as the movement of a toy, which children with autism tend to prefer over social interaction. Project Status
ONGOING

2009

Funder Simons Foundation
Fiscal Year Funding $118,156.48
Project Number 89368
Principal Investigator Bernier, Raphael
Received ARRA Funding? No
Strategic Plan Question Question 4: Which Treatments And Interventions Will Help? (Interventions)
Strategic Plan Objective New! Yellow dot: Objective has some degree of funding, but less than the recommended amount. 4SF. Launch five randomized controlled trials of interventions including biological signatures and other measures to predict response, and monitor quality of life and functional outcomes, in each of the following groups:
  • Five trials in infants and toddlers by 2013. IACC Recommended Budget: $30,000,000 over 5 years.
  • Three randomized controlled trials of interventions for school-aged children and/or adolescents by 2013. IACC Recommended Budget: $18,000,000 over 5 years.
  • Three trials for adults by 2014. IACC Recommended Budget: $18,000,000 over 5 years.
Federal or Private? Private
Institution University of Washington
State/Country Washington
Web Link 1 The mirror neuron system in children with autism (External web link)
Web Link 2 No URL available.
Web Link 3 No URL available.
New! History/Related Projects The mirror neuron system in children with autism | $59,078.28 | 2010 | 89368
The mirror neuron system in children with autism | $118,156.48 | 2008 | Project number unavailable