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Social Brain and Autism

Sep 15, 2017 - Sep 15, 2017

12pm - 1:30pm

Salle Stravinsky - IRCAM


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Social Brain and Autism


Ana Saitovitch et Monica Zilbovicius, Unité INSERM 1000, Institut Imagine, Hôpital Necker – Paris.

The qualitative impairment of social interactions is one of the main characteristics of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Anomalies in the visual scanning of faces, especially the gaze, during the presentation of social scenes have been demonstrated by the method of eye-tracking in children and adults with autism. These anomalies are characterized both by a decrease in the parameters of the gaze measured in regions with strong social content (faces, eyes and mouths) and also by an increase in these parameters in the non-social regions. Identifying and understanding the neural bases of autism remain major challenges.

Our team develops research in the field of brain imaging and ASD using a multimodal imaging research strategy. This strategy allowed us to identify both anatomical and functional anomalies in the superior temporal sulcus (STS) in autism. These data in brain imaging therefore suggest that anomalies in the STS may be the first step in the cascade of neuronal anomalies found in autism. Among the regions of the social brain, STS is known as a key area for social cognition and is involved in various stages of social interactions, ranging from visual and auditory perception (eye tracking, facial and body expression, emotional understanding and voices) to the more complex processes of social cognition (mind theory and mentalization). Finally, the anatomo-functional anomalies of STS would be in agreement with the social difficulties observed clinically and objectified by studies on visual social perception in autism.

Free admission, limited seating available