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Spectrum: Autism Research News

December 6th

Research roundup

  • Dopamine activity in the ventral tegmental area, an important part of the brain’s reward circuitry, contributes to social learning in mice. Nature Neuroscience
  • Folate supplementation during pregnancy does not affect a woman’s likelihood of having a child with autism, according to a birth cohort study in Japan. The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine
  • Children with many autism traits in early childhood appear to eat a lower-quality diet in middle childhood than do those with few autism traits. The Journal of Nutrition
  • People with autism tend to have poor connectivity between several brain regions and the nucleus accumbens, known for its role in social motivation, according to a magnetic resonance imaging study. NeuroReport
  • Cannabidiol reduces seizures in Dravet syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy that is associated with autism, according to a review of studies. Spectrum published a special report on cannabis therapies for autism in November and hosted a Reddit Ask Me Anything event on cannabis on 3 December. Scientific Reports
  • Parents of autistic girls may notice motor delays before other traits, such as language delays, that can facilitate early diagnosis. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
  • Two autism assessment tools, translated and adapted for use in Ethiopia, appear to be reliable. Autism

Science and society

  • Genetics researchers use the term ‘race’ and related race descriptors in their papers far less than they used to, recognizing that race is a social construct, not a biological one. Science
  • The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine is set to hold a three-day workshop, beginning 8 December, to explore how to improve care for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
  • The term ‘profound autism,’ recognized by the Lancet Commission this past week, is useful to describe people who need round-the-clock support, argues Alison Singer, a commission member and parent of an autistic child. STAT
  • Most research dollars spent on autism in New Zealand go to studies of biology, even as advocates press for investment in services for autistic people. The Conversation
  • The Autistic Self Advocacy Network has called for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to step in and ban the use of skin shocks on disabled people, after a federal court allowed its continued use at the Massachusetts-based Judge Rotenberg Center. Autistic Self-Advocacy Network
  • As synthesizing model human embryos in petri dishes edges closer to reality, questions emerge about the ethics involved. STAT

    Colorful micrograph of a human embryo.

    Synthesizing life: Lab-grown embryos come closer to reality.

    Rivron / IMBA

  • Autism researcher Li-Ching Lee, who died in May, is remembered by her peers for her work and kindness. Autism

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TAGS:   autism