An examination of motor functioning in autism and Asperger's disorder: An analysis of gait & cortical brain activity. [ 2002 - 2003 ]

Also known as: Motor functioning in autism and Asperger's disorder

Research Grant

[Cite as]

Researchers: E/Pr Bruce Tonge (Principal investigator) ,  E/Pr John Bradshaw Prof Nicole Rinehart Prof Robert Iansek

Brief description Autism is a developmental disorder characterised by a triad of deficits: delayed and atypical language development, impaired development of social skills, and ritualistic and stereotypic behaviour. Although not part of the standard diagnosis, movement disorders and gait abnormalities have been clinically observed in autism similar to those seen in Parkinson's disease. In addition, individuals with Asperger's disorder may appear more clumsy, have a stiff or awkward way of walking, and exhibit poor coordination in posture and gesture. It has been suggested that there is disruption within the basal-ganglia-thalamocortical circuitry (the region connecting the frontal and sub-cortical structures), which may cause the motor dysfunction seen in autism and Asperger's disorder. Few studies have attempted to isolate particular stages of motor functioning which may account for the coordination and motor delay observed clinically in autism and Asperger's disorder. A recent study of ours found evidence to suggest that motor planning deficiencies may account for the 'clumsy' movement patterns frequently reported in the autism - Asperger's disorder literature. Therefore, the aim of this research is to provide a comprehensive neurobehavioural and neurophysiological analysis of motor functioning in young people with autism and Asperger's disorder to further examine the exact stages of motor processing which are deficient in these disorder groups. Recent retrospective studies have shown that even as infants children with autism exhibit clear features of motor disturbance, which, if detected and clearly defined, could advance early diagnosis. In addition to advancing the clinical definition of autism and Asperger's disorder, a careful examination of motor disturbance may also illuminate the neurobiological underpinnings of these disorders.

Funding Amount $AUD 120,220.00

Funding Scheme NHMRC Project Grants

Notes Standard Project Grant

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