November 24, 2020

Decreased utilization of allocentric coordinates during reaching movement in individuals with autism spectrum disorder

Despite numerous reports of abnormalities in limb motor controls in spatial orientation in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the underlying mechanisms have not been elucidated. We studied the influence of allocentric coordinates on ongoing reaching movements, which has been reported to strongly affect the reaching movements of typically developing (TD) individuals. ASD and TD participants observed a target presented randomly on one of the four corners of a frame on a screen. After it disappeared, another frame was presented slightly shifted leftward/rightward. The participants touched the memorized position of the target relatively congruent with a reference frame (allocentric condition) or ignoring it (egocentric condition). Results suggested that touch positions were less affected by shift directions of reference frame in the allocentric condition in ASD participants, so that they tended to reach in egocentric manner. Our findings demonstrate that decreased utilization of visual landmarks in ongoing movement may underlie motor disabilities in autism.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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