Interpersonal motor synchrony in autism: a systematic review and meta-analysis

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Introduction: Interpersonal motor synchrony (IMS) is the spontaneous, voluntary, or instructed coordination of movements between interacting partners. Throughout the life cycle, it shapes social exchanges and interplays with intra- and inter-individual characteristics that may diverge in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Here we perform a systematic review and meta-analysis to summarize the extant literature and quantify the evidence about reduced IMS in dyads including at least one participant with a diagnosis of ASD. Methods: Empirical evidence from sixteen experimental studies was systematically reviewed, encompassing spontaneous and instructed paradigms as well as a paucity of measures used to assess IMS. Of these, thirteen studies (n = 512 dyads) contributed measures of IMS with an in situ neurotypical partner (TD) for ASD and control groups, which could be used for meta-analyses. Results: Reduced synchronization in ASD-TD dyads emerged from both the systematic review and meta-analyses, although both small and large effect sizes (i.e., Hedge’s g) in favor of the control group are consistent with the data (Hedge’s g =.85, p < 0.001, 95% CI[.35, 1.35], 95% PI[-.89, 2.60]). Discussion: Uncertainty is discussed relative to the type of task, measures, and age range considered in each study. We further discuss that sharing similar experiences of the world might help to synchronize with one another. Future studies should not only assess whether reduced IMS is consistently observed in ASD-TD dyads and how this shapes social exchanges, but also explore whether and how ASD-ASD dyads synchronize during interpersonal exchanges.


Original languageEnglish
Article number1355068
JournalFrontiers in psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 2024

External IDs

ORCID /0000-0002-9560-2789/work/159608631


Sustainable Development Goals

ASJC Scopus subject areas


  • autism spectrum disorder, individual differences, interpersonal motor synchrony, neurodiversity, social interactions