Prefrontal synthesis (PFS) is defined as the ability to juxtapose mental visuospatial objects at will. Paralysis of PFS may be responsible for the lack of comprehension of spatial prepositions, semantically-reversible sentences, and recursive sentences observed in 30 to 40% of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In this report we present data from a three-year-long clinical trial of 6454 ASD children age 2 to 12 years, which were administered a PFS-targeting intervention. Tablet-based verbal and nonverbal exercises emphasizing mental-juxtaposition-of-objects were organized into an application called Mental Imagery Therapy for Autism (MITA). The test group included participants who completed more than one thousand exercises and made no more than one error per exercise. The control group was selected from the rest of participants by a matching procedure. Each test group participant was matched to the control group participant by age, gender, expressive language, receptive language, sociability, cognitive awareness, and health score at first evaluation using propensity score analysis. The test group showed a 2.2-fold improvement in receptive language score vs. control group (p < 0.0001) and a 1.4-fold improvement in expressive language (p = 0.0144). No statistically significant change was detected in other subscales not targeted by the exercises. These findings show that language acquisition improves after training PFS and that a further investigation of the PFS-targeting intervention in a randomized controlled study is warranted.
Keywords: ASD; autism; imagination; language delay; language therapy; theory of mind.