Usefulness of near-infrared spectroscopy to detect brain dysfunction in children with autism spectrum disorder when inferring the mental state of others
Article first published online: 20 MAY 2013
© 2013 The Authors. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences © 2013 Japanese Society of Psychiatry and Neurology
Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences
Volume 67, Issue 4, pages 203–209, May 2013
How to Cite
Iwanaga, R., Tanaka, G., Nakane, H., Honda, S., Imamura, A. and Ozawa, H. (2013), Usefulness of near-infrared spectroscopy to detect brain dysfunction in children with autism spectrum disorder when inferring the mental state of others. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 67: 203–209. doi: 10.1111/pcn.12052
- Issue published online: 20 MAY 2013
- Article first published online: 20 MAY 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 27 JUL 2012
- Manuscript Revised: 18 JUN 2012
- Manuscript Received: 28 JUL 2011
- Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. Grant Number: 17790712
- autism spectrum disorders;
- near-infrared spectroscopy;
- prefrontal cortex;
- theory of mind
The purpose of this study was to examine the usefulness of near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) for identifying abnormalities in prefrontal brain activity in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) as they inferred the mental states of others.
The subjects were 16 children with ASD aged between 8 and 14 years and 16 age-matched healthy control children. Oxygenated hemoglobin concentration was measured in the subject's prefrontal brain region on NIRS during tasks expressing a person's mental state (MS task) and expressing an object's characteristics (OC task).
There was a significant main effect of group (ASD vs control), with the control group having more activity than the ASD group. But there was no significant main effect of task (MS task vs OC task) or hemisphere (right vs left). Significant interactions of task and group were found, with the control group showing more activity than the ASD group during the MS task relative to the OC task.
NIRS showed that there was lower activity in the prefrontal brain area when children with ASD performed MS tasks. Therefore, clinicians might be able to use NIRS and these tasks for conveniently detecting brain dysfunction in children with ASD related to inferring mental states, in the clinical setting.