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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.

May 2010

Rat study sniffs out vasopressin’s role in social behavior

by  /  7 May 2010

Neuroscientists have discovered a population of cells in the smell-perception area of the rat brain that express the hormone vasopressin. The study, published in Nature, begins to unpack the complicated molecular interactions of the hormone in the brain, which could lead to new autism treatments.

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Mouse models reveal workings of neuroligin-1

by  /  4 May 2010

Researchers are tinkering with mouse models to investigate the function of a protein that helps wire neurons together and that has repeatedly been linked to autism. Three such reports of the protein, neuroligin-1, have appeared this year.

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April 2010

Undressing oxytocin

by  /  29 April 2010

Scientists have been unable to replicate work showing an association between oxytocin receptor genes and autism.

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Best-laid plans

by  /  28 April 2010

Despite dozens of studies, researchers have not been able to agree on whether people with autism have trouble with planning skills. The inconsistency in results may be because of differences in short-term memory, according to a new study.

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Scientists find molecular player in Angelman syndrome

by  /  27 April 2010

Two independent teams have discovered key molecular steps in the way a single gene disrupts the connections between neurons in individuals with Angelman syndrome. Because the gene, UBE3A, has also been linked to autism, the findings could help scientists understand and treat a range of neurodevelopmental disorders.

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Researchers probe genetic overlap between ADHD, autism

by  /  22 April 2010

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism may have more in common than childhood onset and a few similar symptoms. New research suggests the conditions share genetic roots.

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Parental trust

by  /  21 April 2010

Many parents of children with autism show some mild traits of the disorder. Research on this group — labeled with the ‘broad autism phenotype’, or BAP — suggests that the genetic underpinnings that lead to language or social problems can manifest in very different ways.

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Scientists finger neurexin 1 defects in autism

by  /  20 April 2010

Several studies in the past year in people, mice and honeybees have tied autism to a protein that helps neurons communicate. Problems with the protein, neurexin 1, are associated with a wide range of autistic behaviors, such as impaired social interactions, anxiety and problems with learning and memory.

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Autism not a fundamental problem of attention, study says

by  /  16 April 2010

Toddlers with autism pay less attention to faces than do healthy controls, but both groups give equal attention to objects, according to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. The findings challenge the idea that individuals with autism have a generalized problem with attention, suggesting instead that they struggle with attending specifically to social stimuli, researchers say.

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Measuring expression

by  /  14 April 2010

To examine protein interactions inside brain cells, scientists typically zero in on one gene at a time. A new method described in today’s Nature simultaneously measures expression of the whole genome.

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