When we observe a motor act (e.g. grasping a cup) done by another individual, we extract, according to how the motor act is performed and its context, two types of information: the goal (grasping) and the intention underlying it (e.g. grasping for drinking). Here we examined whether children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) are able to understand these two aspects of motor acts. Two experiments were carried out. In the first, one group of high-functioning children with ASD and one of typically developing (TD) children were presented with pictures showing hand-object interactions and asked what the individual was doing and why. In half of the ‘‘why’’ trials the observed grip was congruent with the function of the object (‘‘why-use’’ trials), in the other half it corresponded to the grip typically used to move that object (‘‘why-place’’ trials). The results showed that children with ASD have no difficulties in reporting the goals of individual motor acts. In contrast they made several errors in the why task with all errors occurring in the ‘‘why-place’’ trials. In the second experiment the same two groups of children saw pictures showing a hand-grip congruent with the object use, but within a context suggesting either the use of the object or its placement into a container. Here children with ASD performed as TD children, correctly indicating the agent’s intention. In conclusion, our data show that understanding others’ intentions can occur in two ways: by relying on motor information derived from the hand-object interaction, and by using functional information derived from the object’s standard use. Children with ASD have no deficit in the second type of understanding, while they have difficulties in understanding others’ intentions when they have to rely exclusively on motor cues.
|Titolo:||Intention Understanding in Autism|
|Settore Scientifico Disciplinare:||Settore M-FIL/02 - Logica e Filosofia della Scienza|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2009|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI):||10.1371/journal.pone.0005596|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||01 - Articolo su periodico|