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Emerging tools and techniques that may advance autism research.

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March 2014
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New molecules help researchers orchestrate brain activity

by  /  12 March 2014

Using newly discovered molecules from algae, researchers can control the activity of two families of neurons in a single mouse or fly, they reported 9 February in Nature Methods.

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Come-hither rat cry could measure social interest

by  /  5 March 2014

When navigating a maze, rats move toward happy rodent sounds and away from those signaling alarm, according to a review published 4 February in the Journal of Neuroscience Methods. The method could be used to assay social behavior in rodent models of autism.

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February 2014
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Gene expression implicates inhibitory neurons in autism

by  /  26 February 2014

By matching the genes expressed in particular cell types with those linked to a disorder, researchers may be able to identify the cell types implicated in the disorder, they report in a study published 22 January in the Journal of Neuroscience. They use this method to link interneurons and immune cells to autism.

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Virtual joystick shows preference for personal space

by  /  19 February 2014

Children with autism are likely to keep more distance between themselves and a welcoming avatar than controls do in a virtual reality setup, suggesting that they derive less pleasure from social situations, according to a study published 17 January in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

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Induced neuron cell line resembles immature, healthy neurons

by  /  12 February 2014

A commercially available line of neurons generated from induced stem cells would serve as a good control for autism research, according to a study published 16 January in Psychopharmacology.

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Automated tool records behavior of autism mouse models

by  /  5 February 2014

A new tracking system automatically logs and scores mouse behavior as well as a human observer does, according to a paper published 31 December 2013 in Journal of Neuroscience Methods.

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January 2014
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Eye-tracker charts gaze of children with autism

by  /  29 January 2014

A lightweight eye-tracking system allows researchers to record the shifts in gaze that naturally occur during playtime, reports a study published 20 November in Frontiers in Psychology.

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Symptom database may find patterns in complex disorders

by  /  22 January 2014

The Human Phenotype Ontology project has assembled more than 10,000 standardized terms for human diseases and the symptoms that accompany them, researchers reported 1 January in Nucleic Acids Research.

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New assay tracks active neurons in clews of worms

by  /  15 January 2014

Researchers have developed a system that allows them to record the activity of neurons from as many as 20 worm embryos at once, they reported 5 November in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Catalog of symptoms aims to unravel autism diversity

by  /  8 January 2014

Researchers have standardized labels for nearly 300 traits of autism drawn from 24 diagnostic tests for the disorder, they reported 27 October in Neuroinformatics. They can use these terms to search for certain traits among large catalogs of the genetics and symptoms of people with autism.

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