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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.

April 2010

Mapping the brain

by  /  5 April 2010

The human brain holds a mind-boggling 100 billion neurons. Mapping their connections is the lofty goal of the Human Connectome Project, a $30 million scheme sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.

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March 2010

Autism and fragile X feature immune signatures

by  /  30 March 2010

Scientists have identified distinct blood signatures of cytokines — proteins that control communication between cells of the immune system — in individuals with fragile X syndrome and autism.

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Delay found in development of fragile X brains

by  /  26 March 2010

Young mouse models of fragile X syndrome show a significant lag in the development of synapses, the connections between neurons, according to a study published in Neuron. The findings suggest that a similar mistiming may be responsible for the sensory problems — such as hypersensitivity to touch and sound — sometimes seen in people with fragile X syndrome.

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Learning opportunities

by  /  23 March 2010

There are several short periods during development in which our brains are ‘plastic’ — meaning that neuronal connections appear and disappear depending on how much they are used. Researchers may have found a way to reopen those learning windows.

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Evan Eichler: Following his instincts to autism ‘hotspots’

by  /  22 March 2010

With an openness to collaboration and a healthy dose of daring, Evan Eichler has turned his offbeat interest in repeat DNA sequences into a new understanding of how genomes evolve, expediting the search for genes disrupted in autism.

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Face recognition is distinct genetic skill, studies find

by  /  11 March 2010

The ability to recognize faces and interpret facial expressions is programmed partly by genes and inherited separately from other traits, according to three independent studies published this year.

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Studies challenge link between premature birth and autism

by  /  8 March 2010

The proposed connection between premature birth and autism may be more complicated than it seems, according to a new report. Early birth may not cause classically defined autism but, rather, may predispose children to autism-like symptoms that are part of a larger syndrome, the researchers say.

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Postmortem brains point to impaired inhibition in autism

by  /  4 March 2010

Researchers have found a higher density of several types of interneurons — nerve cells that connect sensory and motor neurons in the brain— in postmortem brain tissue from individuals with autism, compared with healthy controls. The findings appear in the February issue of Acta Neurologica Scandinavica.

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Clinical, animal studies probe DISC1’s role in autism

by  /  1 March 2010

Several genetic and animal studies in the past year have found intriguing ties between autism and DISC1, one of the oldest candidate genes for psychiatric disorders.

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February 2010

People with autism stumble on self-other distinctions

by  /  25 February 2010

When thinking about themselves, adults with autism have lower activity in two specific brain regions than do healthy controls, according to an imaging study published in the February issue of Brain.

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