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Spectrum: Autism Research News

Spotted A roundup of autism papers and media mentions you may have missed.

Spotted around the web: Week of 16 December 2019

by  /  20 December 2019

December 16th

Research roundup

  • New tools such as cultured progenitor cells have given researchers insight into placenta formation. Nature Reviews Genetics
  • Researchers studying the evolutionary progression of microglia, the brain’s immune cells, have identified a core group of genes that are turned on in the microglia of all vertebrates, from fish to humans. Cell
  • A review of 83 studies finds scant evidence to support the use of cannabinoids for mental conditions such as depression, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The Lancet Psychiatry
  • Caregivers may underestimate the effects of trauma in autistic children, in part because some autism traits overlap with symptoms of trauma. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
  • Some children with autism who are characterized as ‘high-functioning’ may have rare genetic mutations typically associated with intellectual disability. Journal of Neural Transmission
  • Infant siblings of autistic children show lower neural responses to hearing their own name than they do to hearing an unfamiliar one — and lower responses than controls do. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience
  • A computer-based screening tool ensured that every child attending a pediatric clinic received an autism screen, but clinicians only followed up on half of the positive screens. JAMA Network Open

Science and society

  • A set of viruses called phages have evolved resistance to gene editing that uses CRISPR-like bacterial tools. The Atlantic
  • Time magazine’s ‘Person of the Year,’ Greta Thunberg, epitomizes the strengths of autism: speaking frankly and showing impatience with others’ dishonesty and rationalizations, Steve Silberman writes. Twitter
  • Greta Thunberg and other advocates with autism often face hostility and dismissive attitudes, writes autistic activist Lydia X. Z. Brown. The Washington Post
  • Francis Collins, director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, has announced that he will follow up on recommendations to address sexual harassment; these include creating reporting requirements for lab heads and providing loans to support victims. Science
  • Group homes for people with disabilities receive the lion’s share of state funding for such individuals in Minnesota but often fail to deliver promised services, leaving residents ignored and isolated. Star Tribune
  • Autism researcher Nenad Sestan of the Yale School of Medicine has been named one of Nature’s 10 people who mattered in science this year. Nature
  • The U.S. agency that regulates antitrust law has challenged a move by Illumina, the biggest DNA sequencing company, to acquire its rival, Pacific Biosciences. STAT
  • Men use more positive words, such as ‘remarkable’ and ‘promising,’ to describe research results in the titles and abstracts of scientific papers than women do. The Atlantic


  • A new peer-review platform does not require would-be authors to select the journal they plan to submit their work to. PLOS Blogs

Funding news

The new U.S. federal budget provides increased funds for science agencies, including the National Institutes of Health. Science

TAGS:   autism