autism spectrum disorder
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are characterised by deficiencies in social communication and interactions along with rigid, stereotypic patterns of behaviour. The most recent research shows that ASD may affect even 1 per 68 people.
Since autism was first introduced in the 1940s by Leo Kanner, countless number of studies have been conducted to explain what he described as “autistic aloneness” – specific pattern of social functioning in individuals with ASD.
Nevertheless, there are still major inconsistencies concerning the nature, mechanism and specific aspects of social difficulties in ASD. Nowadays, the development of the field of studies on social cognition – the processes that enable us to understand and interact with other people, gives us a unique opportunity to better understand and evaluate social deficits in ASD. Additionally, the development of brain imaging techniques may help us to assess mechanisms underlying social impairments in ASD. It has been shown, for instance, that individuals with ASD may have problems with understanding mental states and behaviour of other people, which strongly interferes with their everyday functioning. Those deficits are accompanied by altered activation of critical hubs in so called “social brain”.