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Spectrum: Autism Research News

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Emerging tools and techniques that may advance autism research.

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July 2021
image shows slice of a mouse brain with genes highlighted

Method tracks neuron paths, gene expression simultaneously

by  /  21 July 2021

A new technique can reveal where thousands of neurons send their axons — and measure the cells’ RNA levels for dozens of genes at the same time — in the mouse brain. It could be used to profile neural circuits underlying autism.

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New optogenetics technique minimizes thermal damage to neurons

by  /  8 July 2021

Thanks to a new engineered protein for optogenetics experiments, researchers can stimulate neurons with less light than usual and avoid damaging brain tissue.

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June 2021
wireless optogenetic device glowing green on mouse brain.

Wireless optogenetic devices sync neurons among mice

by  /  17 June 2021

Researchers say they can synchronize two new devices and control neurons across 256 freely moving animals at once to study social behaviors.

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CRISPR tool creates long-lasting epigenome alterations

by  /  11 June 2021

A new spin on the classic CRISPR gene-editing tool can alter the genome’s chemical tags and suppress gene expression for months.

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Mini probe records neuronal activity in mouse brain over months

by  /  1 June 2021

A new miniature iteration of a popular probe enables researchers to record activity at thousands of sites across the mouse brain and track the activity of individual neurons over months — providing long-term recording at an unprecedented scale.

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May 2021
3D mouse rendering

Virtual mouse helps scientists track behavior

by  /  27 May 2021

An animated mouse reenacts common behavioral experiments and can be used to train algorithms that automatically track lab animals’ movements.

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New benchmark for autism scale may help gauge therapies

by  /  18 May 2021

Researchers have defined a change in score on a popular autism rating scale that signifies a meaningful improvement in core traits. The measure could help scientists assess the effectiveness of autism treatments in clinical trials.

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Neurons in green

New unified toolbox traces, analyzes neurons

by  /  13 May 2021

‘SNT’ helps researchers sift through microscope images to reconstruct and analyze neurons and their connections.

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April 2021
Colorful RNA in mouse brain slice

Tissue-swelling method divulges RNA locations, sequences in cells

by  /  28 April 2021

A technique that expands tissue before spotting and sequencing RNA — the molecular messenger for DNA — enables researchers to see where particular genes are expressed in cells.

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single celled zygote seen as a colorful cluster of dots, next to a four cell embryo, visualized in the same way.

Intact-cell sequencing lays bare new view of genome structure

by  /  22 April 2021

The technique enables researchers to sequence the DNA of an intact cell, providing a unique view of the genome’s organization inside the nucleus.

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