Autism: the micro-movement perspective
- 1Psychology Department, Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science, Center for Computational Biomedicine Imaging and Modeling (Computer Science), Movement Disorders, Neurology, Rutgers University School of Medicine, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA
- 2Movement Disorders, Neurology Department, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN, USA
- 3Philosophy Department, University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA, USA
- 4Psychology Department, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ, USA
- 5Computer Science Department, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ, USA
- 6Department of Psychiatry, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN, USA
- 7Department of Psychiatry, Christian Sarkine Autism Treatment Center, Riley Hospital for Children, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN, USA
- 8Computer Science Department, Center for Computational Biomedicine Imaging and Modeling, Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ, USA
- 9Physics Department Bloomington, Department of Cellular and Integrative Physiology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA
The current assessment of behaviors in the inventories to diagnose autism spectrum disorders (ASD) focus on observation and discrete categorizations. Behaviors require movements, yet measurements of physical movements are seldom included. Their inclusion however, could provide an objective characterization of behavior to help unveil interactions between the peripheral and the central nervous systems (CNSs). Such interactions are critical for the development and maintenance of spontaneous autonomy, self-regulation, and voluntary control. At present, current approaches cannot deal with the heterogeneous, dynamic and stochastic nature of development. Accordingly, they leave no avenues for real time or longitudinal assessments of change in a coping system continuously adapting and developing compensatory mechanisms. We offer a new unifying statistical framework to reveal re-afferent kinesthetic features of the individual with ASD. The new methodology is based on the non-stationary stochastic patterns of minute fluctuations (micro-movements) inherent to our natural actions. Such patterns of behavioral variability provide re-entrant sensory feedback contributing to the autonomous regulation and coordination of the motor output. From an early age, this feedback supports centrally driven volitional control and fluid, flexible transitions between intentional and spontaneous behaviors. We show that in ASD there is a disruption in the maturation of this form of proprioception. Despite this disturbance, each individual has unique adaptive compensatory capabilities that we can unveil and exploit to evoke faster and more accurate decisions. Measuring the kinesthetic re-afference in tandem with stimuli variations we can detect changes in their micro-movements indicative of a more predictive and reliable kinesthetic percept. Our methods address the heterogeneity of ASD with a personalized approach grounded in the inherent sensory-motor abilities that the individual has already developed.
Keywords: autism spectrum disorders, stochastic kinesthetic re-afference, Gamma probability distribution, spontaneous behavioral variability, non-stationary statistics
Citation: Torres EB, Brincker M, Isenhower RW, Yanovich P, Stigler KA, Nurnberger JI, Metaxas DN and José JV (2013) Autism: the micro-movement perspective. Front. Integr. Neurosci. 7:32. doi: 10.3389/fnint.2013.00032
Received: 07 April 2013; Paper pending published: 18 April 2013;
Accepted: 21 April 2013; Published online: 24 July 2013.
Copyright © 2013 Torres, Brincker, Isenhower, Yanovich, Stigler, Nurnberger, Metaxas and José. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.
*Correspondence: Elizabeth B. Torres, Psychology Department, Rutgers University, Busch Campus, 152 Frelinghuysen Rd., Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA e-mail: email@example.com