Abstract: Background: Stereotypic behaviour can be defined as a clear behavioural pattern where a specific function or target cannot be identified, although it delays on time. Nonetheless, repetitive and stereotypical behaviours play a key role in both animal and human behaviour. Similar behaviours are observed across species, in typical human developmental phases, and in some neuropsychiatric conditions, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Intellectual Disability. This evidence led to the spread of animal models of repetitive behaviours to better understand the neurobiological mechanisms underlying these dysfunctional behaviours and to gain better insight into their role and origin within ASD and other disorders. This, in turn, could lead to new treatments of those disorders in humans. Method: This paper maps the literature on repetitive behaviours in animal models of ASD, in order to improve understanding of stereotypies in persons with ASD in terms of characterization, pathophysiology, genomic and anatomical factors. Results: Literature mapping confirmed that phylogenic approach and animal models may help to improve understanding and differentiation of stereotypies in ASD. Some repetitive behaviours appear to be interconnected and mediated by common genomic and anatomical factors across species, mainly by alterations of basal ganglia circuitry. A new distinction between stereotypies and autotypies should be considered. Conclusions: Phylogenic approach and studies on animal models may support clinical issues related to stereotypies in persons with ASD and provide new insights in classification, pathogenesis, and management.
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