Sensorimotor dysfunctions as primary features of autism spectrum disorders

Matthew W. Mosconi, John A. Sweeney

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Motor impairments in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have received far less research attention than core socialcommunication and cognitive features. Yet, behavioral, neurophysiological, neuroimaging and histopathological studies have documented abnormal motor system development in the majority of individuals with ASD suggesting that these deficits may be primary to the disorder. There are several unique advantages to studying motor development in ASD. First, the neurophysiological substrates of motor skills have been well-characterized via animal and human lesion studies. Second, many of the single- gene disorders associated with ASD also are characterized by motor dysfunctions. Third, recent evidence suggests that the onset of motor dysfunctions may precede the emergence of social and communication deficits during the first year of life in ASD. Motor deficits documented in ASD indicate disruptions throughout the neuroaxis affecting cortex, striatum, the cerebellum and brainstem. Questions remain regarding the timing and development of motor system alterations in ASD, their association with defining clinical features, and their potential for parsing heterogeneity in ASD. Pursuing these questions through neurobiologically informed translational research holds great promise for identifying gene-brain pathways associated with ASD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1016-1023
Number of pages8
JournalScience China Life Sciences
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015


  • autism
  • cerebellum
  • dyspraxia
  • motor
  • oculomotor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Sensorimotor dysfunctions as primary features of autism spectrum disorders'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this