Motor impairments in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have received far less research attention than core socialcommunication and cognitive features. Yet, behavioral, neurophysiological, neuroimaging and histopathological studies have documented abnormal motor system development in the majority of individuals with ASD suggesting that these deficits may be primary to the disorder. There are several unique advantages to studying motor development in ASD. First, the neurophysiological substrates of motor skills have been well-characterized via animal and human lesion studies. Second, many of the single- gene disorders associated with ASD also are characterized by motor dysfunctions. Third, recent evidence suggests that the onset of motor dysfunctions may precede the emergence of social and communication deficits during the first year of life in ASD. Motor deficits documented in ASD indicate disruptions throughout the neuroaxis affecting cortex, striatum, the cerebellum and brainstem. Questions remain regarding the timing and development of motor system alterations in ASD, their association with defining clinical features, and their potential for parsing heterogeneity in ASD. Pursuing these questions through neurobiologically informed translational research holds great promise for identifying gene-brain pathways associated with ASD.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Environmental Science(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)