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Community Newsletter: An ‘unexpected autistic,’ presynaptic optogenetics, neuroanatomy art

by  /  24 July 2022
Speech bubble formed by a network of communication

Illustration by Laurène Boglio

The tweets heating up our feeds this week include an autistic person’s account of her autism being overlooked, as well as tweets discussing new tools for manipulating the signal-sending ends of neurons, sex differences in decision-making, a striking illustration of the human brain, and more.

We’ll kick things off with “An Unexpected Autistic,” the title of a new commentary in Autism in Adulthood by Oluwatobi Abubakare, a clinical psychology student at Indiana University in Bloomington, in which Abubakare writes, “Because of the intersection of my identities, my autism was hidden. But it does not have to be that way for others.”

“I wanted to share a rarely discussed perspective of autism that affects many other autistics of color across the African diaspora,” Abubakare tweeted.

“This piece is filled with insights too often absent in how autism is discussed these days,” tweeted Helen Tager-Flusberg, professor of anatomy, neurobiology and psychology at Boston University in Massachusetts.

“I never looked at myself as an unexpected autistic but that surely explains the resistance received from people who know me,” tweeted Twitter user Aham Brahmasmi.

Elsewhere in the Twittersphere, Nature Neuroscience shared a new review paper focusing on optogenetics tools for directly manipulating ‘presynapses,’ the parts of neurons that release neurotransmitters.

Review co-author Ofer Yizhar, professor of neurobiology at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, mentioned “the exciting opportunities and unique challenges of applying optogenetics at synaptic terminals,” and said the team tried “to cover the basics and also provide some practical tips!”

Nicolas Liem, a graduate student at the Humboldt University of Berlin in Germany, called the paper “a nice review giving an overview on the #optogenetic toolbox for the presynapse and their practical implications!”

Optogenetics at the presynapse is somewhat special,” tweeted co-author Benjamin Rost, a postdoc at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Berlin.

Great synopsis of a complex field,” responded Evelyn Lambe, associate professor of physiology at University of Toronto in Canada.

In a separate string of tweets, Ilana Witten, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Princeton Neuroscience Institute in New Jersey, highlighted a “cool new study” in bioRxiv that sought to explain the neural substrates that underlie sex differences in decision-making behavior in mice.

The study “can help to explain effects over a few years from a few labs, including some differences across tasks,” tweeted Nicola Grissom, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

Australia’s first National Guideline for supporting autistic children has been released in draft form and is open for community feedback, according to a tweet from Andrew Whitehouse, professor of autism research at the Telethon Kids Institute in Perth, Australia. He added that “this is a big milestone for Australia, and we are very keen to hear from you.”

The groups Autism Awareness Australia and CliniKids helped spread the word with quote tweets also calling for feedback from the community.

We’ll close this week’s newsletter with a “beautiful illustration of neuroanatomy with description of functions by Greg Dunn,” shared by Oren Gottfried, professor of neurosurgery at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

There were too many quote tweets to include here, so we’ll leave you with one by Twitter user Dr Hyelander, who wrote, “May the serotonin in all of y’all raphe nuclei remain abundant my friends.”

That’s it for this week’s Community Newsletter! If you have any suggestions for interesting social posts you saw in the autism research sphere, feel free to send an email to [email protected]

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TAGS:   autism, community