Damage to the amygdala — a region of the brain that regulates emotional processing — does not cause autism, according to a study of two individuals with lesions in the region. The study, published in September in the Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, found that these individuals show no evidence of autism when given multiple diagnostic tests.
Spectrum: Autism Research News
For nearly 20 years, Ralph Adolphs has been trying to figure out how the human amygdala works. An avid outdoorsman, Adolphs has run a dozen 50- and 100-mile races, and his colleagues say he approaches science with the same stamina and intensity. He has already published more than 100 scientific papers, several of them revealing intriguing ties between the amygdala and autism.
The amygdala, a brain region that regulates fear and anxiety, shows abnormal neuronal signaling in a mouse model of fragile X syndrome, according to two studies published this summer. These are the first to explore cellular defects in the region in fragile X.
Children with Williams syndrome — a rare genetic disorder that leads to mental retardation and overt friendliness — hold stereotypes based on gender, but not race, according to a report published in Current Biology. Because those with Williams syndrome don’t have social fear, the study suggests racial stereotypes are based partly on fear.
Neuroscientists have discovered a population of cells in the smell-perception area of the rat brain that express the hormone vasopressin. The study, published in Nature, begins to unpack the complicated molecular interactions of the hormone in the brain, which could lead to new autism treatments.
A report in the October issue of Nature Neuroscience says the amygdala — the brain region that controls emotions, as well as the way individuals interpret and respond to social situations and recognize possible threats — governs the preference for personal space.
Genetic analysis of one Belgian family with a history of autism has pinpointed a piece of DNA on chromosome 16, within a segment thought to be missing in about one percent of all cases of autism. The unpublished data was presented on Saturday at the World Congress of Psychiatric Genetics in San Diego.