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Functional brain imaging in Asperger syndrome

Participants: Nouchine Hadjikhani, Christopher Gillberg, Eva Billstedt, Nanna Gillberg, Carina Gillberg & Adam Helles.

Background: There has been a long debate concerning the similarities and differences between autism and Asperger syndrome – and this has been revived after the decision to eliminate the code for the latter diagnostic category from the DSM-5.

Methods: In this project, we are using anatomical and functional brain imaging (fMRI) as well as behavioural testing to assess the integrity of social and emotional brain areas during rest, and during the perception of social stimuli, including neutral and emotional faces and faces varying in gaze direction. We are examining the effect of cueing the participants to look in the eye region of the stimuli on the level of activation in brain areas specialised in face perception. In addition, we are using eye-tracking to record gaze behaviour during the passive viewing of neutral and emotional faces, faces varying in gaze direction, as well as during non-verbal labelling of facial emotions and objects.

Results: Data acquired in adult participants with Asperger will be compared with data acquired in participants with "non-Asperger" ASD, and differences in brain anatomy and function will be examined.


Hadjikhani, N., Zürcher, N.R., Rogier, O., Hippolyte, L., Lemonnier, E., Ruest, T, ... Gillberg, C. (2014). Emotional contagion for pain is intact in autism spectrum disorders. Translational Psychiatry, 4, e343.

Zürcher, N.R., Rogier, O., Boshyan, J., Hippolyte, L., Russo, B., Gillberg, N., ... Hadjikhani, N. (2013). Perception of social cues of danger in autism spectrum disorders. PloS One, 8, e81206.


Page Manager: Anna Spyrou|Last update: 12/18/2014

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