Atypical social modulation of imitation in autism spectrum conditions.
Cook JL., Bird G.
Appropriate modulation of imitation according to social context is important for successful social interaction. In the present study we subliminally primed high-functioning adults with ASC and age- and IQ-matched controls with either a pro- or non- social attitude. Following priming, an automatic imitation paradigm was used to acquire an index of imitation. Whereas imitation levels were higher for pro-socially primed relative to non-socially primed control participants, there was no difference between pro- and non- socially primed individuals with ASC. We conclude that high-functioning adults with ASC demonstrate atypical social modulation of imitation. Given the importance of imitation in social interaction we speculate that difficulties with the modulation of imitation may contribute to the social problems characteristic of ASC.