Role of defective mirror neurons in causing autism spectrum disorder and the effectiveness of current treatment strategies for autism


  • Eman Javed Department of Medicine, Dow Medical College, Karachi, Pakistan
  • Fareeha Masood Department of Medicine, Dow Medical College, Karachi, Pakistan
  • Naz Elahi Department of Medicine, Dow Medical College, Karachi, Pakistan



Mirror neurons , Autism spectrum disorder , Early Start Denver model


The presence of mirror neurons (MN) in the premotor cortex, and parietal regions of the brain, has always been an area of interest to neurophysiologists, because unlike most neurons, they are activated, not only while an individual is performing an action, but also when one witnesses another experiencing a sentiment, and hence, is compelled to do the same. This phenomenon, helps develop empathy, as well as an individual's social behavior. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is defined as a socially isolating disease, and has been hypothesised to be caused by defective MNs. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 1 out of every 100 children suffer from ASD. Although many studies have proven that the impaired MN system is the underlying cause of the cognitive function defects seen in these individuals, the exact role it plays in causing the disease is still unclear.


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