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Genes

Rare or common, inherited or spontaneous, mutations form the core of autism risk.

September 2021
Colorful illustration shows a boy talking and a bird singing, with the sounds merging between them.

Tuning into bird songs for clues to autism

by  /  8 September 2021

Parallels between how birds learn to sing and how children learn to speak provide a window into the roots of language difficulties in autism.

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Colorful illustration shows a esearcher with frogs and frog eggs.

Autism research makes the leap to frogs

by  /  8 September 2021

Frogs are useful for autism research for a slew of reasons, including the fact that the animals’ initial development occurs outside of the mother’s body in plain view.

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A lighthearted, colorful, chaotic lab scene with fruit flies flying in formation, worms peeking out of piles of dirt and zebrafish spilling out of beakers.

What studying worms, flies and fish says about autism

by  /  8 September 2021

Researchers are increasingly turning to simple animals to learn about autism biology and find leads for new drugs.

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Steve Warren

Remembering Steve Warren (1953-2021): A giant in the field of genetics

Steve Warren co-discovered the genetic mechanism that underpins fragile X syndrome and was a generous, inspiring mentor to many.

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neurons in organoids

Protein inhibitor normalizes neuronal migration in organoid model of autism

by  /  1 September 2021

Inhibiting a protein that helps cells move or change shape prevents atypical neuronal migration in 3D clusters of brain cells carrying autism-linked genetic variants.

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August 2021
Micrograph showing missing sodium ion channels in cerebral cortex of mice with two mutated copies of SCN2A gene.

Model mice hint at sodium channel gene’s contribution to autism

by  /  27 August 2021

Altered electrical activity in the neurons of mice with a mutated copy of SCN2A may explain the animals’ autism-like social behaviors.

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Close-up profile of child with focus on eye.

Visual response shows promise as biomarker in autism-linked condition

by  /  23 August 2021

Brain responses to visual stimuli are smaller and weaker in children with Phelan-McDermid syndrome, an autism-linked genetic condition, than in non-autistic children.

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Micrograph showing highlighted genes related to autism in the thalamus.

Brain’s sensory processor may prompt memory problems in autism

by  /  19 August 2021

Mice with autism- or schizophrenia-linked mutations only in the anterodorsal thalamus have problems with long-term and working memory.

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Illustration of brain showing overexcited and underexcited parts of the brain represented by jagged and loose squiggles.

Disruptions to brain’s ‘thermostat’ may underpin autism traits

by  /  18 August 2021

Mounting evidence suggests that autism often involves upsets in homeostatic plasticity, a set of processes neurons use to stabilize their activity. These disruptions result from a range of autism-linked mutations and may help to explain the condition’s famed heterogeneity.

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Young patient speaking to counselor.

Q&A with Brenda Finucane: Building pipelines for genetic tests for autism

by  /  17 August 2021

Most autistic people do not receive the medically recommended genetic tests for autism. Brenda Finucane and her colleagues want to change that.

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