Purpose of Review
We review evidence for the presence, quality, and correlates of interpersonal synchrony in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) across four domains: motor, conversational, physiological, and neural. We also propose cognitive and neural mechanisms for the disruption of interpersonal synchrony and investigate synchrony as a mechanism of intervention in ASD.
Across domains, synchrony is present but reduced or atypical in individuals with ASD during interactions with individuals with typical development (TD). Atypical synchrony may reflect the contribution of both intrapersonal mechanisms, such as atypical motor timing, and interpersonal mechanisms, such as atypical interindividual coupling. Research suggests evidence for synchrony interventions leading to improvements in some aspects of social behavior.
Understanding synchrony in ASD has the potential to lead to biomarkers and interventions to support social functioning. However, further research should clarify mechanisms of atypical synchrony in ASD including taking features of the dyad into account.
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Contributions to this article from Elizabeth Redcay and Kathryn A. McNaughton were supported in part by funding from the National Institutes of Mental Health (R01MH107441).
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McNaughton, K.A., Redcay, E. Interpersonal Synchrony in Autism. Curr Psychiatry Rep 22, 12 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-020-1135-8
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Social interaction
- Interpersonal coordination