Absence of Contagious Yawning in ASD Laura Pynn

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Absence of Contagious Yawning in ASD Laura Pynn 18/03/08

Absence of Contagious Yawning in ASD Laura Pynn 18/03/08

Research Question w Is the capacity for empathy related to deficits in contagious yawning?

Research Question w Is the capacity for empathy related to deficits in contagious yawning? w Deficits in capacity for empathy known to exist in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) w Contagious yawning known to activate the superior temporal sulcus and periamygdalar region w Structural abnormalities have been reported in these areas in individuals with ASD

Participants ASD children w N = 24 w 20 males, 4 females w Mean=11.

Participants ASD children w N = 24 w 20 males, 4 females w Mean=11. 6 yrs w 7. 0 -15. 9 w IQ = 82. 1 w 46 -127 TD children w N = 25 w 14 males, 11 females w Mean = 11. 0 w 8. 0 -14. 9 w IQ = 106. 9 w 85 -142

Procedure Yawn Condition w 6 video clips - yawning faces, 7 s each w

Procedure Yawn Condition w 6 video clips - yawning faces, 7 s each w 1 minute inter-stimulus interval w Silent cartoon animation w Participants asked to count # of female faces to ensure they attended to the display Control Condition w 6 video clips - open mouth faces, 7 s each w 1 minute inter-stimulus interval w Silent cartoon animation w Participants asked to count # of female faces to ensure they attended to the display

Results w Between Groups w Yawn videos elicited more yawns from the TD group

Results w Between Groups w Yawn videos elicited more yawns from the TD group than the ASD group w No difference between yawning rates for control videos; therefore rates of spontaneous yawning do not differ between groups w Within Groups w No difference between yawn and control condition in ASD children w Significant differences between the yawn and control conditions for TD children

Further Analysis w Analysis of male participants only: w Results remained significant w IQ

Further Analysis w Analysis of male participants only: w Results remained significant w IQ matched subgroups: w 16 TD children, 16 ASD children w TD children still showed more yawning than ASD children in the yawn condition

Discussion w Demonstrates neuropathology can specifically impair contagious yawning without effecting spontaneous yawning w

Discussion w Demonstrates neuropathology can specifically impair contagious yawning without effecting spontaneous yawning w “…current results support the claim that contagious yawning and the capacity for empathy share common neural and cognitive mechanisms. ”

Discussion w Why? w Possible dysfunction of the mirror neuron system (MNS) w However,

Discussion w Why? w Possible dysfunction of the mirror neuron system (MNS) w However, previous f. MRI studies found no selective activation of Broca’s area during contagious yawning http: //www. baillement. com/f. mri-article. html w Atypical patterns of face fixation - perception of the eye regions is most important for eliciting yawns w Future studies with eye tracking?