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Emerging tools and techniques that may advance autism research.

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June 2012
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Wheel-running test assesses autism behaviors in mice

by  /  27 June 2012

Researchers can evaluate core features of autism, such as social deficits and stereotyped behaviors, by watching how mice used to running on a wheel react when the wheel is broken, according to a study published 24 May in Behavioral Brain Research.

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Whole-brain circuits light up in fish brains

by  /  20 June 2012

A new approach allows researchers to visualize individual neurons in the small, clear brains of larval zebrafish as they interact with their surroundings, according to a study published 9 May in Nature.

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‘Tomato’ red molecule reports on neuronal activity

by  /  13 June 2012

A pH-sensitive red fluorescent molecule allows researchers to simultaneously monitor two different types of neuronal activity, according to a study published 27 May in Nature Neuroscience.

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Radio waves turn on gene expression

by  /  6 June 2012

The heat produced by radio waves can interact with metallic nanoparticles bound to temperature-sensitive ion channels in cells, allowing researchers to remotely alter gene expression in live animals, according to a study published 4 May in Science. The technique could also be used to activate neuronal signals by manipulating calcium influx into neurons, the researchers say. 

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May 2012
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New functional analysis can predict and rank autism genes

by  /  30 May 2012

A new computational analysis can predict whether a gene is implicated in autism or intellectual disability with up to 98 percent accuracy, according to a study published 15 May in the American Journal of Medical Genetics.

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Robot replaces neuroscientists in technique

by  /  23 May 2012

A robot can replace researchers in performing a painstaking technique that records neuronal signals in live animal brains, according to a study published 6 May in Nature Methods.

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New technique helps locate source of brain imaging signals

by  /  16 May 2012

Combining functional magnetic resonance imaging of rat brains with a technique that uses light to detect neuronal activity can help researchers hone in on the source of the activity, according to a study published 6 May in Nature Methods.

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Sponges made from RNA can knock down gene expression

by  /  9 May 2012

Researchers have created sponge-like assemblies of hundreds of thousands of short fragments of RNA, which can be used to dampen the expression of certain genes, according to a study published 26 February in Nature Materials.

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Blood biomarkers can help diagnose schizophrenia

by  /  2 May 2012

A biological signature in the blood could be used to aid the early diagnosis of schizophrenia, according to a study published 12 April in Molecular Psychiatry. The results suggest that various circulating immune molecules and metabolites reflect the biological changes that underlie neurological disorders.

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April 2012
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Researchers engineer mice lacking microRNAs

by  /  25 April 2012

Researchers are developing a resource that will allow scientists to engineer mice lacking one of 162 microRNAs — non-coding regions of the genome that regulate gene expression. The results were published 19 April in Cell Reports.

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