Spotted A roundup of autism papers and media mentions you may have missed.
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Spotted around the web: Week of 4 February 2019

by  /  8 February 2019

February 4th

Research roundup

  • Epilepsy co-occurs in nearly half of all autistic individuals, according to a new study. Children
  • A protein called PTBP2 helps generate axons in neurons by splicing the transcripts of certain genes into a variety of forms. Neuron
  • Prenatal exposure to vitamin D is associated with improved cognitive development and a lower risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism-related traits later in life. Molecular Psychiatry
  • Autistic individuals appear to have a unique gut microbiome, which could be a target for future therapies. Translational Psychiatry
  • Hypersensitivity to sound and touch can be quantified in both autistic and neurotypical children using a special assessment. Molecular Autism
  • Many children with autism can become bilingual, given enough exposure to the second language. Autism Research
  • The autism-risk gene CHD8 acts as a ‘master regulator’ of genes involved in the cell cycle, immune function and RNA processing. Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience
  • Excessive pruning of neuronal junctions, or synapses, occurs in cultures of cells from people with schizophrenia. Nature Neuroscience
  • A variety of brief, low-cost screening tools show promise for identifying children with autism or developmental delay in low- and middle-income countries. Autism Research
  • Cannabis may be a safe and effective way to relieve anxiety, aggression and self-injurious behaviors in autistic children. Scientific Reports

Science and society

  • Scientists are trying a novel method to determine how successful mental-health treatments work. STAT
  • Using artificial intelligence for clinical diagnoses may end up exacerbating health disparities if algorithms are not developed for people from a variety of backgrounds. The New York Times
  • The Autism BrainNet biobank has new samples available for researchers, including tissue from 55 brains from individuals with a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of autism. Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
  • Despite the ‘right-to-try’ bill being signed into law last year, people are unable to access therapies that have yet to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. STAT
  • Difficulty picking up on romantic cues and communicating attraction can make dating a struggle for autistic women. Refinery29
  • Autistic children may get along with peers but face bullying from adults. The Washington Post
  • Latino children may be diagnosed with autism almost 2.5 years later than white children. Psychology Today
  • Although it is important to see autism represented in literature, authors often reduce the condition to a literary metaphor — a gift, a curse, a sign of intelligence or a moral hurdle — one advocate argues. The New York Times
  • Psychiatrists debate the effectiveness of electroconvulsive therapy for treating depression. The BMJ
  • Hospitals are testing voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa in rooms to monitor medical conversations and suggest options for care. STAT

Autism and the arts

  • British playwright Alex Oates has written a new comedy-drama about a couple with a nonverbal autistic child, inspired by his own experience as a caregiver. Southwark Playhouse


  • The pressure to succeed and publish in high-impact journals may turn researchers who could be collaborators into rivals. Science

Job moves

  • Sue Fletcher-Watson, previously at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, has been appointed director of the SMC Research Centre for Learning Difficulties. University of Edinburgh