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

ACE Center: Mirror neuron and reward circuitry in autism  

This grant provides support for an NIH Autism Center of Excellence (ACE). Several recent investigations have yielded evidence supporting the hypothesis that a dysfunctional mirror neuron system (MNS) - a system thought to provide a neural mechanism by which others' actions, intentions, and emotions can be readily understood - may underlie core deficits observed in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). An alternative (though not mutually exclusive) and largely untested hypothesis posits that the social deficits observed in autism are secondary to a primary impairment in social motivation resulting from a failure to attach a reward value to social stimuli due to dysfunction of the dopamine reward system. This project will address both potential hypotheses. One aspect of the study will assess whether the MNS can be brought 'online' in children with autism, while another aim will examine MNS function in children that have received various controlled treatments for their ASD. The reward system in ASD will also be investigated, and characterizing the functioning of both systems within the same individuals will elucidate how reward and mirror neuron circuitry might be inter-related in the normal and autistic brain. Research findings from the proposed studies should lead to the design of more successful interventions at both the behavioral and pharmacological level. Project Status
ONGOING

2010

Funder National Institutes of Health
Fiscal Year Funding $305,987.00
Current Award Period 2007-2012
Project Number 5P50HD055784-04
Principal Investigator Dapretto, Mirella
Received ARRA Funding? No
Strategic Plan Question Question 2: How Can I Understand What Is Happening? (Biology)
Subcategory Neural Systems
Strategic Plan Objective 2O. Not specific to Question 2 objectives
Federal or Private? Federal
Institution University of California, Los Angeles
State/Country California
Web Link 1 ACE Center: Mirror neuron and reward circuitry in autism (External web link)
Web Link 2 No URL available.
Web Link 3 No URL available.
New! History/Related Projects ACE Center: Mirror neuron and reward circuitry in autism | $307,838.00 | 2009 | 5P50HD055784-03
ACE Center: Mirror neuron and reward circuitry in autism (supplement) | $51,364.00 | 2009 | 3P50HD055784-03S1