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Spectrum: Autism Research News

Spotted around the web: CDK13; hippocampal plasticity; science Twitter

by ,  /  13 January 2023

January 9th

Research roundup

  • Hippocampal neurons in a rat model of fragile X syndrome show similar firing rates and spatial tuning during repeat visits to a novel environment; by contrast, wildtype rats show experience-related changes. Molecular Autism
  • Autistic children in China are diagnosed at 29 months of age, on average; children with single parents, living in rural areas or who have mothers who are engaged in physical work are more likely to have delayed diagnoses. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment
  • Autism therapies denoted as “evidence-based practice” are too often based on poor-quality research, writes Kristen Bottema-Beutel, a special-education expert, in a new editorial. Spectrum reported on the evidence problem in autism treatment research last year. Autism
  • A machine-learning algorithm can distinguish social interactions between an autistic person and a non-autistic one from those between two non-autistic people, based on the degree of synchrony across the participants’ movements and facial expressions, according to a preprint. medRxiv
  • Autistic adolescents with gender dysphoria seem to benefit from peer-group support, according to a pilot study. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
  • Language impairments in CDK13-related disorder, which is associated with autism and intellectual disability, encompass a range of profiles, though receptive language tends to be stronger than expressive language. European Journal of Human Genetics
  • Variants of the autism-linked gene KMT2E induce anxiety and social inhibition in mice, as well as anatomic and metabolic changes in the animals’ amygdalae. Molecular Neurobiology
  • Autistic adolescents are 11 times as likely as young people with other complex or chronic conditions to be hospitalized for mental health reasons, at an overall cost to U.S. health care of more than $100 million per year. Autism
  • The gene YTHDF2 appears to be linked to a subtype of autism that co-occurs with disproportionate megalencephaly, according to a preprint. medRxiv
  • Categorizing genes by their functional impact ties autism with co-occurring macrocephaly to WNT signaling, neuron development, synapse function and organ morphogenesis. Human Molecular Genetics
  • Autistic children tend to have fewer circulating branched-chain amino acids than non-autistic children. Molecular Neurobiology
  • Attention problems are associated with motor stereotypy in autistic children and teenagers, but it is not clear whether these repetitive motor behaviors lead to attention issues or are a way of coping with them. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Zebrafish missing the FMR1 gene, which is linked to fragile X syndrome, have altered visual perception and deficient prey-catching skills. Journal of Neuroscience
  • Girls and boys who have a high level of autism traits show gender-specific trajectories in early life, which may explain why girls are less likely to be assessed for autism. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences

Science and society

  • Adolescents with autism or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder are more likely than those with suicidal or self-harming behaviors to make multiple visits to psychiatric emergency rooms for behavioral issues. The New York Times
  • Twitter has become a place for researchers to broadcast and discuss scientific findings with one another and with non-researchers; many say they worry this opportunity has changed for the worse since Elon Musk bought the company. Nature
Hashtags lie in disarray against a pastel blue background.

Science Twitter: Researchers are concerned that Elon Musk’s influence will undermine Twitter’s usefulness for sharing and discussing their work.

Tanja Ivanova / Getty Images

  • A test that detects levels of metals in a strand of hair, with an aim to diagnose autism, is still early in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval process. Spectrum reported on the test, called StrandDx, last year. NBC News
  • Novartis has entered a licensing agreement with Swiss biotech Stalicla to help develop their product mavoglurant, an mGluR5 antagonist, for the treatment of neurodevelopmental conditions and substance use disorders. Spectrum profiled Stalicla last year. Fierce Biotech
  • Scientific research institutions should establish methodological review boards to ensure that planned studies will be free of basic design flaws and can yield informative data, writes Dutch researcher Daniël Lakens in an editorial. Nature
  • Journals’ policies to announce or publish corrections and retractions vary and may be influenced by conflating mistakes with misconduct, which can affect researchers’ reputations. STAT

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TAGS:   autism