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Spectrum: Autism Research News


Sarah DeWeerdt

Contributing Writer, Spectrum

Sarah DeWeerdt is a Seattle-based freelance science writer specializing in biology, medicine and the environment. Her work has appeared in publications including Nature, Newsweek, Conservation and Nautilus. She has been a regular contributor to Spectrum since 2010, writing conference reports, news and Deep Dive articles.

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October 2019

Mock flu triggers changes in brain, behavior of monkeys

by  /  20 October 2019

Marmosets exposed to a mock infection in the womb have altered vocal development and diminished social interest; exposed macaques show changes in brain structure and function.


Transplanted neurons rescue social behavior but not brain circuits

by  /  20 October 2019

Injecting cells called interneurons into the brains of a mouse model of autism restores typical social behavior. But the reason for this effect is a puzzle.


Looking directly in the eyes engages region of the social brain

by  /  20 October 2019

The social brain has a sweet spot that activates when people look each other in the eyes but not when they look at eyes in a video.


Study finds unexpected role for top autism gene

by  /  14 October 2019

SETD5, a leading candidate for autism risk, may control thousands of genes by modifying a protein involved in packaging DNA.


Songbirds speak volumes about language learning, autism

by  /  11 October 2019

A new study supports the view that songbirds offer a good model to study speech learning in autistic children.

August 2019

Mouse squeaks may be poor analog for human speech

by  /  16 August 2019

The brain areas involved in mice’s ultrasonic vocalizations may not be the same as those that govern human speech.

June 2019
Video of three mice running on a wheel

Mechanical tracker measures social activity of multiple mice for days

by  /  28 June 2019

A new system enables researchers to automatically track the social behavior of up to four mice for days at a time.

Group of children walking in the countryside in Vietnam.

Large survey of children hints at true autism prevalence in Vietnam

by  /  10 June 2019

Less than 1 percent of young children in northern Vietnam have autism, but this prevalence is higher than in previous reports.

May 2019

The signaling imbalance theory of autism, explained

by  /  1 May 2019

The signaling imbalance theory holds that the brains of autistic people are hyper-excitable because of either excess neuronal activity or weak brakes on that activity.

February 2019
Close up of mouse shows whiskers

Four sets of mice call popular autism theory into question

by  /  25 February 2019

An analysis of four mouse models negates certain assumptions underlying the signaling imbalance theory of autism.