Over the past century, scientists have used a variety of animal models to advance their understanding of the developing brain and autism.
Spectrum: Autism Research News
In the past two decades, some autism researchers have turned to simple animals, such as roundworms, fruit flies and zebrafish, for their investigations. Others have sought answers from experiments with frogs, birds and even octopuses.
The finding that MDMA and an experimental serotonin agonist increase sociability across six different model mice suggests that disparate autism-linked mutations converge on the same underlying pathways.
Mice missing the autism-linked gene SHANK3 use more neurons to engage in social behavior than control mice do, reflecting a more disorganized, less efficient brain signaling network.
The high levels of serotonin seen in the blood of some autistic people have confounded scientists for more than half a century. Despite so little progress, some researchers refuse to give up.
Worms and zebrafish missing both copies of the gene CHD7 have disrupted cellular signaling, a dearth of inhibitory neurons and behavior changes — all of which are reversed by the stimulant drug ephedrine.
A glowing protein tracks serotonin levels and location in the brains of living mice and could yield clues to the neurotransmitter’s role in autism.
A class of medications used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder seems to ease compulsive behaviors in adults with autism. Why can’t we tell if these medications work similarly in children with the condition?
The branch of the nervous system that regulates subconscious bodily processes such as breathing and digestion may play a key role in autism.