Identifying the signature of prospective motor control in children with autism.

Affiliation

Cavallo A(1)(2), Romeo L(3)(4), Ansuini C(1), Battaglia F(1)(5), Nobili L(5)(6), Pontil M(4), Panzeri S(7), Becchio C(8).
Author information:
(1)Cognition, Motion and Neuroscience Laboratory, Center for Human Technologies, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Genoa, Italy.
(2)Department of Psychology, Università degli Studi di Torino, Turin, Italy.
(3)Department of Information Engineering, Università Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona, Italy.
(4)Computational Statistics and Machine Learning Laboratory, Center for Human Technologies, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Genoa, Italy.
(5)Child Neuropsychiatric Unit, IRCCS Istituto G. Gaslini, Genoa, Italy.
(6)DINOGMI Department of Neurosciences, Rehabilitation, Ophthalmology, Genetics and Maternal and Children's Sciences, Università degli Studi di Genova, Genoa, Italy.
(7)Neural Computational Laboratory, Center for Human Technologies, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Genoa, Italy.
(8)Cognition, Motion and Neuroscience Laboratory, Center for Human Technologies, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Genoa, Italy. [Email]

Abstract

Failure to develop prospective motor control has been proposed to be a core phenotypic marker of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). However, whether genuine differences in prospective motor control permit discriminating between ASD and non-ASD profiles over and above individual differences in motor output remains unclear. Here, we combined high precision measures of hand movement kinematics and rigorous machine learning analyses to determine the true power of prospective movement data to differentiate children with autism and typically developing children. Our results show that while movement is unique to each individual, variations in the kinematic patterning of sequential grasping movements genuinely differentiate children with autism from typically developing children. These findings provide quantitative evidence for a prospective motor control impairment in autism and indicate the potential to draw inferences about autism on the basis of movement kinematics.