Cracks On Glass Essay

973 words - 4 pages

In the late 1990’s, researchers from the University of California, San Diego wanted to know if there was connection between mirror neurons and autism.1 They hypothesized that since these neurons play a role in a person’s ability to feel empathy, they found it sensible to think it might be the cause of autistic symptoms.1 Autism is a disorder found among children where areas of the brain fail to work thus makes it difficult for individuals to communicate.4

A researcher, Giacomo Rizzolatti at the University of Parma Italy, conducted a study in the 1990’s studying Macacas. His group studied the motor command neuron from the premotor cortex. The neuron is part of the frontal lobe that is ...view middle of the document...

When using the EEG on an autistic child, the mu wave was suppressed when the child made a voluntary movement. However, when the child observed another person making the same action the mu wave was not suppressed1. Therefore they concluded that the motor command system of the child is normal but the child lacked mirror neurons1. Furthermore, this did not explain why autistic children are unable to understand metaphors.

A test developed by Wolfgang Koehler known as the “Bouba and Kiki Test” was made to map out speeches and sounds of a curvy and spiky object2. He found that no matter what language is spoken, the test showed 98% accuracy2. After testing it on autistic children, the group hypothesized that the angular gyrus which is near the hear and touch centers of the brain might be responsible for children’s inability to understand metaphors1. It is because the angular gyrus has properties that are similar to mirror neurons.1
The second theory known as the “salience landscape theory”shows the landscape of the amygdala which maps out the emotional responses of an individual’s environment. Information of the responses is constructed and passed to the amygdala acting like a portal to go to the emotion-regulating limbic system1. The group concluded that people with autism have a distorted salience landscape. In other words, the connections of the amygdala input and the structures of the limbic system that regulate behavior is altered and therefore, cause extreme emotional responses1. Researchers have found that 1 in 3 autistic children had temporal lobe epilepsy during infancy1. It was caused by repeated passing of nerve impulses crossing the limbic system meaning that connections between amygdala and visual cortex get distorted1. This can explain why some autistic children have really enhanced skills such as drawing.

By identifying mu wave suppression, it became possible to diagnose an autistic child. The group said specialized neuromodulators...

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