JBBS> Vol.2 No.2, May 2012

Neural Correlates of Developmental Coordination Disorder: The Mirror Neuron System Hypothesis

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ABSTRACT

Primary impairments of developmental coordination disorder (DCD) include impairments in motor skill, motor learning, and imitation. Such difficulties present challenges for individuals with DCD and may persist into adulthood, negatively impacting daily life in school, work, and social domains. A better understanding of the neural correlates of motor and imitation impairments in DCD holds the potential for informing development of treatment approaches to address these impairments. Although the disorder is assumed to be of neurological origin, little is known of the brain-based etiology of DCD. In recent years the discovery of a fronto-parietal circuit—known as the mirror neuron system—has enabled researchers to better understand imitation, general motor functions, and aspects of social cognition. Given its involvement in imitation and other motor functions, we propose that dysfunction in the mirror neuron system may underlie the characteristic impairments of DCD. We review literature pertaining to the mirror neuron system and develop a theory of disordered mirror neuron functioning in DCD. Finally, we review the limited neuroimaging literature available on neural correlates of DCD and show that the findings from those investigations are congruent with a mirror neuron system theory of DCD. Future research in this population should be designed to investigate specifically mirror neuron regions in individuals with DCD during skilled motor tasks and imitation in particular.

Cite this paper

J. Werner, S. Cermak and L. Aziz-Zadeh, "Neural Correlates of Developmental Coordination Disorder: The Mirror Neuron System Hypothesis," Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science, Vol. 2 No. 2, 2012, pp. 258-268. doi: 10.4236/jbbs.2012.22029.

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