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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.

August 2010

Studies explore amygdala problems in fragile X syndrome

by  /  31 August 2010

The amygdala, a brain region that regulates fear and anxiety, shows abnormal neuronal signaling in a mouse model of fragile X syndrome, according to two studies published this summer. These are the first to explore cellular defects in the region in fragile X.

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Fragile X protein linked to potassium channels

by  /  24 August 2010

Mouse models of fragile X syndrome show defects in two kinds of potassium channels — ubiquitous pores that control the flow of electrical current across neurons — in a brain area that processes sound, according to two papers published this summer.

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Kevin Pelphrey: Charting the course of the social brain

by  /  17 August 2010

With robust training in developmental psychology and a techie’s fervor for new tools, Kevin Pelphrey is systematically investigating how the brain changes during development — starting in infants as young as 6 weeks old.

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Diagnostic scans for autism not imminent, experts say

by  /  13 August 2010

An imaging study widely interpreted as heralding a diagnostic brain scan for autism is more preliminary than popular media reports would indicate, according to experts familiar with the work.

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Brain’s adaptability begins at single synapse

by  /  10 August 2010

Researchers have uncovered an important molecular piece of a learning mechanism that occurs at the junction between neurons. The findings, which may help understand how the brain is disrupted in disorders such as autism, appear in the 24 June issue of Neuron.

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Fragile X models give clues to stem cell programming

by  /  9 August 2010

Not all stem cells are created equal, a string of new studies suggests: adult cells that are reprogrammed into stem cells carry chemical remnants of the tissue from which they originate, making them distinct from embryonic stem cells. These differences may have important implications for studying fragile X syndrome and other diseases that arise from epigenetic glitches.

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July 2010

Scientists flash videos of brain development in fragile X

by  /  30 July 2010

Scientists have for the first time captured a dynamic picture of brain defects in young mouse models of fragile X syndrome. The findings appeared in June in the Journal of Neuroscience.

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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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