GALLESE, V., GERNSBACHER, M.A., HEYES, C., HICKOK, G., & IACOBONI, M. (2011). Mirror neuron forum. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6, 369–407.
Perhaps no other application of mirror neuron hypothesizing has been characterized by as much speculation as that of the relation between mirror neurons and the autistic phenotype. However, of the two most prominent studies promoting the broken mirror neuron hypothesis of autism, one (Dapretto et al., 2006) failed twice to replicate, and the other (Oberman et al., 2005) not only failed twice to replicate but also failed to control one of the most crucial aspects of the study’s design. In contrast to these two highly visible but non-replicated studies, much larger and more firmly established bodies of data contradict predictions made by mirror neuron theory. The “broken mirror neuron” hypothesis likely represents an unfortunate detour in the quest to provide autistic persons with the support and assistance that they need.