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Emerging tools and techniques that may advance autism research.

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November 2017
Neurons in a mouse brain glow green after a virus carrying specialized molecular tools edits their genomes.
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Viral sidekick allows CRISPR to reliably edit neuron DNA

by  /  24 November 2017

A new trick involving a virus gives the CRISPR enzyme system the ability to edit the genome of a neuron more predictably than was previously possible.

Neurons (green) generated from a human stem-cell line carry one of six mutations associated with schizophrenia, autism or intellectual disability.
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New technique ramps up editing of genes in stem cells

by  /  17 November 2017

A novel method allows researchers to rapidly generate stem-cell colonies with mutations linked to autism or other conditions.

High-frequency sound waves reveal changes in blood flow that correspond to seizure activity.
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Tool taps sound waves to trace seizure activity in newborns

by  /  9 November 2017

A new ultrasound device provides high-resolution movies of blood flow through the brains of infants.

Mini-brains made from stem cells contain several types of cells found in developing human brains.
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Simple recipe dishes up realistic ‘mini-brains’

by  /  3 November 2017

A simple method for growing spheres of brain cells yields more realistic replicas of the brain than traditional techniques do.

October 2017
This digital map reveals three neuron populations (shown separately and overlaid) in the mouse brain.
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Maps chart inhibitory neurons across mouse brain

by  /  27 October 2017

The numbers and types of neurons that dampen brain signals vary by brain region and sex.

A new resource charts the locations of two types of chemical modifications to chromosomes (top, middle) and gene expression changes (bottom) in brain tissue.
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Databases describe DNA ‘dials’ that control gene expression

by  /  20 October 2017

Two new resources catalog how genetic variants affect gene expression in the brain.

Room full of filing folders on shelves
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Repository ties mutations to traits in Phelan-McDermid syndrome

by  /  13 October 2017

A new database details the genetic mutations associated with Phelan-McDermid syndrome, along with the behavioral outcomes of people with those mutations.

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A new method analyzes gene expression to identify more than a dozen cell types in human brain tissue.
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Droplet technique probes gene expression in brain tissue

by  /  6 October 2017

A new method offers an efficient way to examine gene expression in individual cells from postmortem brains.

September 2017
One virtual world for fruit flies includes a cavernous space with a pole at the center.
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Virtual reality provides precise control of animal behavior

by  /  29 September 2017

A new tool can track fish, flies or mice as they navigate a virtual environment and interact with other animal ‘avatars.’

After months in culture, stem cells (left) develop into mature brain cells, including star-shaped astrocytes (right).
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Lab-grown spheres yield star-shaped brain cells

by  /  22 September 2017

A new technique allows researchers to generate brain cells called astrocytes and maintain them in culture as they mature.


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