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Special Reports Curated collections of articles on special topics in autism.
A lighthearted, colorful, chaotic lab scene with fruit flies, worms peeking out of petri dishes, zebrafish in beakers and an octopus creeping out of a cabinet..
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NATALIE NELSON
Features / Special Reports

Special report: Unusual animal models of autism

8 September 2021

In the past two decades, some autism researchers have turned to simple animals, such as roundworms, fruit flies and zebrafish, for their investigations. Others have sought answers from experiments with frogs, birds and even octopuses. In this special report, we describe these discoveries and the impact that alternative animal models have had on autism research.


Featured Articles

A lighthearted, colorful, chaotic lab scene with fruit flies flying in formation, worms peeking out of piles of dirt and zebrafish spilling out of beakers.

What studying worms, flies and fish says about autism

by  /  8 September 2021

Researchers are increasingly turning to simple animals to learn about autism biology and find leads for new drugs.

Colorful illustration shows a esearcher with frogs and frog eggs.

Autism research makes the leap to frogs

by  /  8 September 2021

Frogs are useful for autism research for a slew of reasons, including the fact that the animals’ initial development occurs outside of the mother’s body in plain view.

Illustration shows two octopi interacting on a yellow background.

Getting eight arms around autism

by  /  8 September 2021

Octopuses can solve some of the same problems as people but do so in unusual ways.

Colorful illustration shows a boy talking and a bird singing, with the sounds merging between them.

Tuning into bird songs for clues to autism

by  /  8 September 2021

Parallels between how birds learn to sing and how children learn to speak provide a window into the roots of language difficulties in autism.

researcher holds zebrafinch

Fish, frogs, flies and other fauna in scientific firsts

by  /  8 September 2021

Over the past century, scientists have used a variety of animal models to advance their understanding of the developing brain and autism.

From The Archives

Researcher in red plaid shirt and blue nitrile gloves holds a lab mouse fitted with a fiber optic cannula, a needle-shaped glass piece that goes into the mouse's brain surrounded by a metal sleeve to which researchers attach a fiber optic patch cord.
3D image of colorized brain sections showing neuron connections
Microscopic images from the eye of a fly.
Young zebrafish have transparent skin, which allows researchers to track the movements of glowing beads of excrement through their gut.
Glowing neurons in the transparent young zebrafish highlight activity in its brain and muscles.