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Spectrum: Autism Research News

July 26th

Research roundup

  • Neurons differentiate prematurely in human brain tissue with FOXG1 mutations, which lead to a syndrome characterized by intellectual disability and epilepsy, supporting findings in animals. European Journal of Medical Genetics
  • Mice carrying mutations in the TSC1 gene, which has been associated with autism traits, show altered development of inhibitory neurons and impaired social behavior. Nature Communications
  • Autistic adults who say their work ability is poor also tend to have social anxiety and problems switching among tasks. Autism
  • Postmortem studies of autism typically find alterations in the brain’s frontal cortex and cerebellum. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews
  • Gene variants that alter histone function — and thereby the regulation of cellular DNA — are linked to autism; confirming the association, mice missing the SUV39H2 gene are hyperactive and show inflexibility on a complex learning task. Molecular Psychiatry
  • Children with more autism traits tend to have smaller brain volumes and, in some regions, thinner cortical layers and less gyration than children with fewer autism traits. Autism Research
  • Neonatal oxytocin administration appears to alter hippocampal development and improve social behavior. Molecular Psychiatry
  • Advances in precision medicine put new and better treatments for autism in reach, according to a new commentary. Neuron
  • Two new publicly available algorithms can accurately predict protein structures from DNA sequences. Nature
  • Genetic characterizations of autism have far outpaced phenotypic ones; however, synthesizing the two may be necessary to understand autism, argues Isaac Kohane. Neuron
  • Repetitive behaviors observed in first-degree relatives of people with autism or with obsessive compulsive disorder show similar patterns, strengthening the idea that a common pathway underlies both conditions. Autism Research
  • Low levels of vitamin D during a woman’s pregnancy are associated with higher odds of autism in her child; Spectrum has reported on similar associations found in larger studies. Biological Psychiatry
  • Autistic boys and girls have bigger sensory processing differences than non-autistic boys and girls do. Autism Research
  • A prolonged-release form of melatonin improves sleep onset and duration in autistic children with insomnia. Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy

Science and society

  • The U.K. government has announced an Autism Strategy, which includes funding to improve diagnosis and access to treatment and educational settings for people on the spectrum. UK
  • Autism and disability advocates say they are underrepresented in Hollywood, which casts non-disabled actors as disabled characters and tells stories that rely on disability stereotypes. Ms. Magazine

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TAGS:   autism