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Emerging tools and techniques that may advance autism research.

A photograph of a person preparing for an fMRI scan

Head motion mars most fMRI results, even after correction

by  /  30 January 2023

A new measure shows how greatly movement influences associations between traits and brain activity, revealing abundant false positives and false negatives.

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January 2023
A woman sits and works at a laptop while her daughter sits next to her and looks out of a glass door.

New tool aims to capture full breadth of repetitive behaviors

by  /  13 January 2023

The measure breaks the behaviors down into eight distinct subdomains — categorization that could prove useful for clinical trials, its creator says.

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Figure shows cultured human kidney cells and cultured rat cortical neurons responding to light exposure.

Unconventional optogenetics technique spurs long-lasting changes in neuronal activity

by  /  9 January 2023

Conventional optogenetic manipulations to excite or inhibit neurons stop when the light switches off. A new approach makes the changes last.

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December 2022
Image from an open-source programming tool that overlays microscopy images in 3D and pinpoints where neurons connect.

Microscopy mash-up quantifies, maps neural circuits

by  /  7 December 2022

A new method that merges tissue expansion, light-sheet microscopy and automated image segmentation can reconstruct neural circuits in about a week.

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Composite image of inhibitory and excitatory neurons.

One-rosette technique grows well-organized organoids

by  /  2 December 2022

The method yields complex organoids that more closely mimic embryonic brain development than do those cultured in other ways.

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November 2022
An array of brain maps.

New tool transforms, compares dissimilar brain maps

by  /  1 November 2022

The open-source software makes it possible to overlay disparate datasets and potentially accelerate hypothesis generation.

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October 2022

New RNA tool prompts protein production in select cells

by  /  28 October 2022

The technique could be used to identify and control cells involved in autism.

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Image of a synthetic mouse embryo.

Lab-grown ‘embryoids’ offer new window into gene-trait relationships

by  /  26 October 2022

The developmental models have advantages over natural embryos and other synthetic models, such as organoids, but present technical and ethical challenges.

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A composite of many scans of mice illustrating the effectiveness of an experimental drug.

Two-drug combo blunts autism-linked pathway in brain

by  /  14 October 2022

One drug blocks mTOR signaling, and the other stops the blocker from acting anywhere in the body but the brain, lowering the potential for side effects.

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September 2022
A set of 4 multicolored brain scans showing development of cortical surface area.

New mapping method reveals subtleties of brain development

by  /  21 September 2022

The machine-learning approach could help identify how brain structure differs between autistic and non-autistic infants, the researchers say.

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August 2022
Illustration of two chromosomes with copy number variants.

‘Dosage sensitivity map’ predicts active ingredients in copy number variants

by  /  31 August 2022

The catalog of rare copy number variants tied to autism and other conditions could help researchers identify which genes account for the mutations’ effects.

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