FRIDAY, Oct. 19 (HealthDay News) -- It's difficult for children with autism to recognize improper social behavior and, even if they do, they are often unable to use spoken language to explain why the behavior was inappropriate, a small new study reveals.
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The findings from brain scans of children with autism support the results of previous behavior studies that reached similar conclusions about language impairment in children with autism, the researchers said.
The study included 12 children with autism and 13 children without autism who were asked to identify in which of two pictures a boy was being bad -- a social judgment -- or which of the pictures was outdoors -- a physical judgment. As the children did this, their brain activity was monitored using functional MRI.
Both groups of children were successful at the task, but the children with autism showed activity in fewer brain regions involving social and language networks, according to the study published Oct. 17 in the journal PLoS One.
Although language was not needed for the task, the children without autism used language areas of the brain while making their decisions about the pictures, noted researcher Elizabeth Carter, of Carnegie Mellon University, and colleagues.
"These results indicate that it is important to work with these children on translating their knowledge into language," Carter said in a journal news release.
-- Robert Preidt
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SOURCE: PLoS One, news release, Oct. 17, 2012