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Spectrum: Autism Research News

Author

Laura Dattaro

Senior News Writer

Laura Dattaro is a senior reporter for Spectrum, where she covers genetics, mental health, public policy and other areas of autism research. She proposed and writes the Null and Noteworthy newsletter, a monthly recap of studies with null results and replications. She joined Spectrum in 2020. Dattaro has worked as a science journalist and editor for 10 years and has written for the Columbia Journalism ReviewPopular MechanicsSlate and The New York Times, among other publications. Before joining Spectrum, she also worked as associate producer for the World Science Festival. Dattaro has an M.A. in science and health journalism from Columbia University and a B.A. in English and music from the University of Delaware. You can find her on Twitter at @LauraLauraDat or reach out to her at [email protected].

Contact Info

[email protected]

April 2022

The placenta and neurodevelopment: A conversation with Anna Penn

by  /  19 April 2022

The temporary organ may hold clues about the origins of autism and brain development, Anna Penn says — if only researchers would study it.

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Illustration of hybrid objects: part light bulb, part lab vial, some in blue and some in red to signify null and replicated results.

Null and Noteworthy: An ineffective therapy and an effective biomarker

by  /  6 April 2022

In this edition, a strategy to help autistic children adapt their skills to new situations shows no benefit, but an early-life autism biomarker does.

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Altering metabolic pathway spurs neuronal, behavioral changes in mice

by  /  5 April 2022

Overexpressing genes involved in the pathway, which regulates protein quality, changes repetitive behaviors in the animals.

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March 2022

DNA tags in placenta point to possible autism-linked gene

by  /  29 March 2022

The gene, dubbed NHIP, is in a chromosomal region that shows unusually low levels of DNA methylation in placentas from women who gave birth to autistic children.

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Neurons with low levels of ASH1L have fewer and shorter projections

Drug boosts growth of neurons deficient in autism-linked protein

by  /  25 March 2022

The neurons, which have low levels of the gene ASH1L, sprout more branches after the treatment.

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Illustration of hybrid objects: part light bulb, part lab vial, some in blue and some in red to signify null and replicated results

Null and Noteworthy: Halted vasopressin trial, intact visual memory, a new way to study emotions

by  /  10 March 2022

In this edition of Null and Noteworthy, a large clinical trial goes sideways, while memory and emotions hold up.

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Autism model mice develop typical social and motor behaviors after drug treatment

by  /  9 March 2022

The drug suppresses an overactive signaling pathway implicated in tuberous sclerosis complex.

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February 2022

Amygdala development diverges in autism-specific anxiety

by  /  24 February 2022

The brain region, which is involved in fear and emotion processing, develops differently in autistic children with anxiety than in those without anxiety or in non-autistic children; its development also depends on the type of anxiety a child experiences.

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Cerebellum size shows tenuous genetic link to autism

by  /  21 February 2022

Some genomic areas that help determine cerebellar size are associated with autism, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, according to a new study. But heritable variants across the genome that also influence cerebellar size are not.

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Illustration of hybrid objects: part light bulb, part lab vial, some in blue and some in red to signify null and replicated results

Null and Noteworthy: Autism and aging, anorexia overlaps, pregnancy effects

by  /  10 February 2022

In this edition of Null and Noteworthy, researchers replicate encouraging findings on autism and aging and shoot down a host of potential links between pregnancy complications and having a child with autism.

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