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The Brain

Charting the structure and function of the brain’s many circuits may unravel autism’s mysteries.

News

Innate stress response may link maternal infection to autism

by  /  19 March 2021
A typically protective stress response could help to explain the connection between maternal illness and neurodevelopmental conditions.
News
Oligodendrocyte shown orange on black in this scanning electron micrograph.

How oligodendrocytes may shape autism

by  /  15 March 2021
A growing body of evidence shows that brain cells called oligodendrocytes may play a larger role in autism than previously thought.
News / Toolbox
mouse brain neurons highlighted pink and green.

New technique tunes in to molecular chatter in neurons

by  /  11 March 2021
Researchers have devised a way to use fluorescent sensors to detect many different signaling molecules in a cell at once.
March 2021
Nasal sprayer makes a brain shape out of its spray.
Opinion / Viewpoint

How to improve oxytocin research for autism

by ,  /  9 March 2021

To guard against hype, scientists studying oxytocin’s role in autism and its potential as a treatment need to embrace robust theories, rigorous delivery methods and reproducible research practices.

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Tiny cortical organoids in petri dish
News

Year-old organoids echo genetic shifts seen at birth

by  /  8 March 2021

3D cultures of human brain cells kept alive for more than a year undergo transitions in gene activity that resemble those seen in newborns, and may be used to study autism genes in postnatal stages of brain development.

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A digital rendering of a green neuron on black
News

Brain activity jump-starts autism-linked genes in human neurons

by  /  5 March 2021

Some neurons activate autism-linked genes when they fire, according to a new study.

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Scientists Damien Fair, Constance Hicks-Smith and Brian Boyd
News / Profiles

Black autism researchers weigh in on field’s past, future

by  /  3 March 2021

Spectrum spoke with three Black scientists about why they got into autism research, what keeps them excited about their work and how the field could become more diverse.

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News

Broken protein bridge linked to Rett syndrome traits

by  /  1 March 2021

Altering a protein linked to Rett syndrome so that it cannot bind to a methylation tag in neurons results in Rett-like traits in mice.

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February 2021
Oil and water with colors behind: blue, green, yellow and red.
Opinion / Q&A

How microscopic ‘condensates’ in cells might contribute to autism

by  /  23 February 2021

A controversial idea about how cells compartmentalize their contents into droplets — like beads of oil in water — could be key to understanding autism, says Julie Forman-Kay.

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Oligodendrocyte gene grouping showing network of blue lines connecting the gene names on reddish bubbles.
News

Differing gene functions across species may pose problems for autism models

by  /  22 February 2021

Misaligned gene expression maps suggest that some autism-linked genes play distinct roles in mouse and human brains.

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Singing zebra finches
News

Autism gene interference silences song memory in birds

by  /  19 February 2021

Muffling expression of an autism-linked gene in a key song-related area of the brain renders young zebra finches unable to learn songs from older birds.

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Mouse brains show different brain regions lighting up
News / Toolbox

Ultrasound probe reveals brain circuit activity in living mice

by  /  18 February 2021

A new high-resolution imaging device tracks brain activity in awake mice, enabling researchers to map neural circuits across the entire brain.

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Man reaches into cabinet while a woman looks on
News

Single neurons may power key ‘theory of mind’ skills

by  /  8 February 2021

A subset of brain cells signal when someone tries to infer another person’s thoughts, according to a new study.

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