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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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February 2019

Brain’s prefrontal cortex conducts symphony of social players

by  /  20 February 2019

A brain region that orchestrates responses to social cues and aids decision-making may be off tempo in autism.

January 2019
Portrait of Damien Fair at OSHU

Rising Star: Damien Fair, never at rest

by  /  9 January 2019

Damien Fair has a knack for transforming obstacles into opportunities, a trait that has brought trailblazing discoveries and admiration from colleagues.


People with autism sometimes give ambiguous looks

by  /  2 January 2019

Autistic people have trouble making facial expressions appropriate to the circumstances.

November 2018
Delicate network of neurons and synapses.

Webbing around neurons altered in autism mouse models

by  /  8 November 2018

Lattice-like structures that surround neurons may be overly abundant — or scarce — in brain regions of three autism mouse models.

Marmoset in a clear cage in a lab.

Monkey motion-capture reveals social behavior in 3-D

by  /  8 November 2018

A monkey-sized jacket embedded with motion sensors — similar to technology used to animate creatures in movies — is helping researchers develop the common marmoset as a model for studying human social behavior.


Gene expression ‘barcode’ maps cells in brain tissue

by  /  7 November 2018

A new technique transforms the previous broad-brush picture of a brain region into a pointillist masterpiece of neuronal subpopulations associated with specific activities.


Fraction of brain’s links create ‘fingerprints’ of identity

by  /  7 November 2018

A tiny fraction of the connections between brain regions can identify an individual.

Infant in fnirs cap, wrapped in blankets.

Study tracks social brain development in African infants

by  /  7 November 2018

An inexpensive, noninvasive method can track social brain development in infants in low-resource countries.


Roundworm roundup may reveal function of autism genes

by  /  6 November 2018

Tracking how roundworms crawl has enabled scientists to determine that many autism genes are involved in sensory processing and learning.

Illustration shows a maze of elements: human brain, medicine, chromosome, factory, clouds and lightning bolts

Environmental risk for autism, explained

by  /  5 November 2018

Autism results from an interplay between genetics and the environment, but it has been tough to nail down the environmental factors involved.