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Genes

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

January 2010

Guoping Feng: Unearthing the roots of compulsive behavior

by  /  4 January 2010

Guoping Feng’s perseverance has proven a boon to the hundreds of neuroscientists who rely on his most celebrated scientific achievement: two dozen mouse strains engineered to have brightly colored brain cells. By creating the first robust mouse model of obsessive-compulsive disorder, Feng has also found a way to study repetitive behaviors, one of the three core characteristics of autism.

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December 2009

Chemical messenger variant found in families with autism

by  /  16 December 2009

Scientists have for the first time found direct evidence that defects in the GABA receptor sometimes give rise to autism, according to research published 24 November in Molecular Psychiatry.

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Mounting evidence fingers mitochondria in autism risk

by  /  8 December 2009

Using new genetic screening technology, a few research groups are finding that a surprisingly large number of children with autism — at least five percent — have an underlying problem with their mitochondria, the energy factories of the cell.

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Autism shares features with cerebellar syndromes

by  /  3 December 2009

There are clinical, anatomical and genetic overlaps between autism and certain rare developmental disorders of the cerebellum, and these disorders may help scientists understand autism, according to several studies published in the past year.

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November 2009

Baby sib studies reveal differences in brain response

by  /  30 November 2009

Studies on younger siblings of children with autism are finding that during tests of sensory or perceptual processing, these baby sibs show abnormally fast brain responses, rather than a delay.

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Loss of inhibitory neurons marks autism mouse models

by  /  24 November 2009

Autism may be the result of faulty wiring that occurs during early brain development, according to two independent studies that looked at the origins of circuit disruption.

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Only subset of chromosome 16 variants linked to autism

by  /  20 November 2009

Deletions or duplications of chromosomal segment 16p11.2 — previously reported as a key autism region — are seen in people with developmental delays and speech and behavioral problems, but not necessarily autism. That’s the finding from two large studies published last week of people carrying these rare genetic variations.

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MeCP2 loss leads to smaller neurons in brain region

by  /  18 November 2009

Deleting MeCP2, the gene that’s mutated in Rett syndrome, alters both the size and function of neurons in the mouse brain — at least in one brain region, the locus ceruleus — according to a 30 September report in the Journal of Neuroscience.

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Double trouble

by  /  17 November 2009

Rare mutations that increase the risk of neuro-psychiatric diseases usually occur in only one copy of a gene. What happens when both copies are mutated?

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Amygdala found to govern notion of personal space

by  /  13 November 2009

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.

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