IMITATION, SOCIAL INTERACTIONS & AUTISM
Imitation is a key mechanism through which children learn the socially acceptable behaviours of social groups. Given that autism is defined by social-communicative difficulties, how critical is imitation in autistic people’s social interactions and what does imitation mean for their bonding with others?
Recently, we developed a method called CAMI (short for Computerised Assessment of Motor Imitation), which uses motion data from two people to evaluate how well one person imitated the other. We have shown that imitation ability as measured by CAMI alone could identify which children had an autism diagnosis with over 85% accuracy. At present, we are working on optimising CAMI for off-the-shelf 2D cameras and testing its diagnostic utility in young children.
In other work, I am investigating what imitation means for autistic people's social interactions – Does imitation help autistic people understand others and have richer social interactions, or is it more related to masking, which we know is detrimental for mental wellbeing?
Inge-Marie Eigsti (University of Connecticut)
Adam Eggebrecht (Washington University)
Daniel Lidstone (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Stewart Mostofsky (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Carolina Pacheco (Johns Hopkins University)
René Vidal (Johns Hopkins University)
Jamie Ward (Goldsmiths University)
Tunçgenç, B., Koch, C., Eigsti, I-M., & Mostofsky, S. H. (2023). Mimicry and social affiliation with virtual partner are decreased in autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 100. doi: 10.1016/j.rasd.2022.102073
Lidstone, D. E., Rochowiak, R., Pacheco, C., Tunçgenç, B., Vidal, R., & Mostofsky, S. (2021). Automated and scalable Computerized Assessment of Motor Imitation (CAMI) in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder using a single 2D camera: A pilot study. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 87. doi: 10.1016/j.rasd.2021.101840
Tunçgenç, B., Pacheco. C., Rochowiak, et al., Mostofsky, S. H. (2020). Computerised Assessment of Motor Imitation (CAMI) as a scalable method for distinguishing children with autism. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging. doi: 10.1016/j.bpsc.2020.09.001