Frontiers in Psychology
Social synchrony, Autism spectrum disorders, Social dysfunction, Social dynamic behavior, Coupled oscillators
Social interactions typically involve movements of the body that become synchronized over time and both intentional and spontaneous interactional synchrony have been found to be an essential part of successful human interaction. However, our understanding of the importance of temporal dimensions of social motor synchrony in social dysfunction is limited. Here, we used a pendulum coordination paradigm to assess dynamic, process-oriented measures of social motor synchrony in adolescents with and without autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Our data indicate that adolescents with ASD demonstrate less synchronization in both spontaneous and intentional interpersonal coordination. Coupled oscillator modeling suggests that ASD participants assembled a synchronization dynamic with a weaker coupling strength, which corresponds to a lower sensitivity and decreased attention to the movements of the other person, but do not demonstrate evidence of a delay in information transmission. The implication of these findings for isolating an ASD-specific social synchronization deficit that could serve as an objective, bio-behavioral marker is discussed.
This research was supported by University of Massachusetts Medical School Department of Psychiatry and Assumption College Collaborative Pilot Research Program (CPRP), awarded to PF and JF, Evaluating Social Synchrony in Autism Spectrum Disorders as well as National Institutes of Health Grant R01R01GM105045 awarded to RS.
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Fitzpatrick, P.; Frazier, J. A. ; Cochran, D. M. ; Mitchell, T.; Coleman, C.; and Schmidt, R. C. (2016). Impairments of Social Motor Synchrony Evident in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Frontiers in Psychology 7: 1323. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01323