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Spectrum: Autism Research News

TOPIC

The Brain

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

July 2010

Promising treatment

by  /  29 July 2010

Families affected by fragile X syndrome can let out a modest cheer this week: the largest-ever randomized trial of a drug to treat the syndrome has just cleared its second phase.

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Neurexin found to have diverse partners at synapse

by  /  27 July 2010

Scientists have discovered that neurexins — proteins linked to autism — bind to a wide variety of molecules at the junction between neurons. In this complicated system, the breakdown of any one of the parts could lead to improper cell signaling, ultimately giving rise to disease.

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Social interactions not rewarding for children with autism

by  /  23 July 2010

Children with autism have abnormally low brain activity in the ‘reward center’ of the brain when given money or shown a happy face, according to a study in Autism Research. These are the first imaging data to support the notion that children with autism derive less pleasure from social interactions compared with their healthy peers.

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Obsessive mice

by  /  21 July 2010

The biology of obsessive-compulsive disorder becomes even more baffling with the release of two new mouse models, each implicating a different type of brain cell.

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Study finds weak genetic link between autism and intelligence

by  /  20 July 2010

Autism and intellectual disability often occur together, but in most cases that overlap is not genetic, according to a study of twin pairs published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics. Unraveling this link might help researchers pinpoint brain circuits involved in both conditions, and better understand the diversity of symptoms in the autism spectrum, experts say.

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Brain curvature distinguishes Asperger syndrome from autism

by  /  16 July 2010

A region of the brain that controls language is more extensively curved in children with autism than in those with Asperger syndrome, according to a study published in the Journal of Child Neurology. The findings offer preliminary biological evidence that Asperger syndrome, a disorder on the autism spectrum, is distinct from high-functioning autism.

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Vasopressin’s sexier side

by  /  14 July 2010

Researchers have pinpointed the brain circuits that underlie the vasopressin hormone’s role in regulating emotions.

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Deep sequencing questions role of imprinted genes in autism

by  /  8 July 2010

The mouse brain has more than 1,300 regions for which the copy from one parent is expressed more often than the one from the other parent, according to two studies published today in Science. These so-called imprinted genes have been proposed to cause some cases of autism, but the researchers say their findings do not support that theory.

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Abnormal brain growth seen in children with fragile X

by  /  7 July 2010

Children with fragile X syndrome show abnormal growth in several brain structures during the first few years of life, according to the first study to track how the disease unfolds in the brain during early development.

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Synaptic defects link autism, schizophrenia

by  /  2 July 2010

Several independent groups have found previously unknown risk genes for autism, schizophrenia and mental retardation. The candidate genes have one thing in common: they encode proteins that are needed for the healthy function of synapses, the junctions between neurons.

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