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Spectrum: Autism Research News

Spotted around the web: Brain organoids; early IQ changes; anti-racist policies

by , ,  /  17 February 2023

February 13th

Research roundup

  • Sex and gender influence neurodevelopmental conditions, and better understanding their roles could improve diagnosis and treatment. Nature Reviews Neurology
  • The protein NLGN4 is highly expressed in oxytocin- and vasopressin-producing neurons in the hypothalamus, according to a study in postmortem brains. Molecular Brain
  • Improved methods have helped researchers overcome problems with variability and slow growth in culturing human brain organoids, making them even more useful models for studying the genetics of neurodevelopmental conditions. Biological Psychiatry
  • Transgender and nonbinary adults in England are almost six times as likely as their cisgender peers to be autistic. This figure tracks with previous research Spectrum has covered on the relationship between gender identity and autism. BMJ Open
  • Researchers have developed a robust tool to characterize gender identity across multidimensional binary and nonbinary gender traits. American Psychologist
  • A new method called HAT (for Hare And Tortoise) can reliably call out de novo mutations from the DNA sequences of child and parent triads, according to a preprint. bioRxiv
    Images of antibodies in the cell membrane

    Selective staining: Antibodies against NLGN4 (red) show the protein in the cell membrane of human brain specimens and do not cross-react with other neuroligins (green).

  • Autistic children can be separated into three groups based on their IQ scores between age 3 and 11: those whose scores remain low, remain high or increase. JCPP Advances
  • Researchers have characterized mouse facial expressions based on response to pleasant and aversive stimuli. eNeuro
  • Diagnoses of psychiatric conditions in autistic people may vary based on race or ethnicity, according to a review of inpatient hospitalization in the United States. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

Science and society

  • Autistic storyteller Jessica Horner profiles herself and four other autistic people, who share their feelings of not fitting in before being diagnosed in adulthood. ABC News
  • Autism researchers disagree on terminology to describe the condition — symptoms versus traits; disorder versus difference — and the implications of those terms. Spectrum reported on the rift last month. Science
  • U.S. schools often conduct “informal removals” of students with challenging behaviors, which saps educational time and is in violation of civil rights laws. The New York Times
  • An anonymous donor has given $25 million to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to establish a new center for research on epilepsy and neurodevelopmental conditions. Penn Medicine
  • The journal Nature is accepting nominations for its two Inspiring Women in STEM awards until 8 May 2023. Nature
  • The Autistic Self Advocacy Network objects to the Biden administration’s decision to declare an end to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Autistic Self Advocacy Network
  • The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine calls for institutions of higher education and scientific research to pursue anti-racist policies that move beyond counting the number of underrepresented scholars to creating an inclusive culture. STAT
  • Theoretical neuroscientist Ann Kennedy has won a 2023 Sloan Research Fellowship, which comes with $75,000 for early-career researchers. Spectrum profiled her last year. Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

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TAGS:   autism