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Spectrum: Autism Research News

Cannabis effect on brain development; SYNGAP1 gene; autism in Africa

by  /  8 September 2023

September 4th

  • Two scientists comment on diversity and inclusion — of both study participants and researchers — in intellectual and developmental disability research and argue for a broader view of the multidimensional nature of people with or without a diagnosis. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
  • Altered development of brain areas such as the thalamus and the striatum in autistic people are better described by shape than by volume analysis, according to a preprint. bioRxiv
  • Margaret Brimble has been awarded the Davy Medal 2023 for her organic chemistry work. Earlier this year, Spectrum reported on a new drug for Rett syndrome that Brimble’s lab developed. The Royal Society
  • Mice with only one copy of the autism-linked gene SYNGAP1 in brain interneurons show altered responses to sensory stimuli, which weakens the animals’ performance on cognitive tasks. Journal of Neuroscience
  • Neuroscientist Yasmin Hurd’s work has shown cannabis’s distinct effects on the developing brain, sounding a warning about young people’s access to recreational marijuana as more U.S. states legalize it for adults. Science
  • Joseph LeDoux, a New York University neuroscientist who studies fear responses and amygdala function, has announced the closing of his laboratory.

    Pot stickers: Receptors for cannabinoids are found throughout the human brain.

    Courtesy of Yasmin Hurd

  • Africa has a similar prevalence of autism, compared with other parts of the world, but limited access to diagnosis and treatment, fewer autism specialists and continued cultural stigma around the condition, a review reports. Annals of Medicine & Surgery
  • A new checklist for people with tuberous sclerosis syndrome could identify neuropsychiatric conditions via self- or caregiver-report. Pediatric Neurology
  • Autism researcher William Mandy reflects on how Donald Triplett, the first person diagnosed with autism, found an environment that helped him lead a satisfying life. Autism
  • Food and social stimuli activate overlapping populations of dopamine-containing neurons in the ventral tegmental area. Neuron
  • Mice with specific SYNGAP1 gene mutations observed in people have reduced mRNA and SYNGAP1 protein, and demonstrate hyperactivity and working memory deficits. PNAS
  • Neurons on a computer chip — called DishBrain — can learn to play the computer game Pong by self-organizing cells’ behavior in response to changing conditions. Nature Communications

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TAGS:   autism