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Spectrum: Autism Research News

Spotted around the web: Sharing games; myelination; neuroscience prizes

by  /  21 April 2023

April 17th

Research roundup

  • Autistic youth are more likely than their non-autistic peers to have suicidal thoughts and to self-injure, according to a clinician rating scale; the findings are consistent with those derived from parent- and self-report questionnaires. Autism
  • Commonly used autism assessment instruments have good reliability, although subscales with fewer items, such as ones that measure restricted and repetitive behaviors, appear to be weaker than those with more items. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
  • Autistic adolescents behave differently from their non-autistic peers in two classic economics games that assess sharing behaviors, according to a small study. Autism Research
  • The Repetitive Behaviors Questionnaire for Adults appears to be a valid measure of the four aspects of restricted and repetitive behaviors — repetitive motor movements, insistence on sameness, restricted interests and atypical sensitivity. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
  • Drugs that promote myelination appear to mitigate electrophysiological and behavioral traits in a mouse model of Pitt-Hopkins syndrome. Brain
  • Integrating genetics with brain imaging and applying machine learning could reveal early biomarkers for autism, a review article suggests. Molecular Psychiatry
  • Different types of social interaction activate different regions of the brain with varying specificity. NeuroImage
  • Minimally verbal autistic toddlers speak more after one of two interventions targeted to their baseline traits and delivered over six months, according to a recent study. Autism Research

    A grid of 72 fMRI scans showing varying states of brain activation

    Social perception: Functional magnetic resonance imaging maps people’s brain responses to seeing various social situations.

  • Autistic people do not seem to have a generalized downward gaze bias, which might otherwise explain why autistic people tend to gaze at other people’s mouths rather than at the eyes, according to a small study. Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology

Science and society

  • Nature journals have updated their policies on race- and ethnic-related research to be more rigorous and descriptive, with the goal of avoiding inadvertent harm. Nature
  • Neuroscientist Huda Akil of the University of Michigan, who studies the neurobiology of emotions, has won the 2023 Gruber Neuroscience Prize. The Gruber Foundation
  • Autism researcher David Sulzer trains elephants to play music, which he says is another way to unlock the mysteries of sensory processing in the basal ganglia. The New Yorker
  • The Duke Autism Center in Durham, North Carolina, has halted its practice of delivering cord-blood-cell infusions to autistic children. Spectrum reported on unproven stem-cell therapies for autism in 2019. The Niche
  • The Japan Neuroscience Society has awarded its 2023 Joseph Altman Award for Developmental Neuroscience to Tomasz Nowakowski of the University of California, San Francisco. Spectrum published a Q&A with Nowakowsi last year. The Japan Neuroscience Society

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, help is available. Here is a worldwide directory of resources and hotlines that you can call for support.

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TAGS:   autism