Not So Automatic Imitation: Expectation of Incongruence Reduces Interference in Both Autism Spectrum Disorder and Typical Development
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Research has observed evidence for both hypo-(supposedly due to a broken mirror neuron system) and hyper-(thought to be the result of deficits in adaptive control) imitation in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This work sought to adjudicate between these findings using an automatic imitation (AI) paradigm with the novel manipulation of the need to engage adaptive control of imitation. Results demonstrated that ASD participants do not display a specific deficit in AI capability, are able to engage in proactive control of AI, and that relative to a well-matched effector condition, AI is not selectively associated with ASD symptom severity. These data cast doubt upon the notion of impairments in imitation or its control in ASD.
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