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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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June 2014

Modified protein switches neurons off in response to light

by  /  4 June 2014

A much-celebrated technique called optogenetics causes neurons to fire in response to flashes of light. Researchers have now figured out how to use the method to switch neurons off, reports a study published 25 April in Science.

May 2014

Chemical cocktail renders mouse, monkey brains transparent

by  /  28 May 2014

A new method for turning brains transparent and scanning them will make it easier to map neuronal circuits, according to a paper published 24 April in Cell.


Brain-wide map links fruit fly behaviors to neurons

by  /  21 May 2014

Triggering neuron activity with flashes of light allows scientists to tie behaviors in fruit fly larvae to specific neuron groups, reports a study published 25 April in Science. The study catalogs the associations between neurons and the movements they control.


New algorithm maps cells to their locations in the brain

by  /  14 May 2014

A new computational model predicts the sites in the brain of 64 types of neurons, researchers reported 8 April in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Massive atlas documents genome’s regulatory regions

by  /  7 May 2014

Researchers have sequenced hundreds of human and mouse genomes to generate an atlas of more than 200,000 regions that regulate gene expression, they reported 27 March in Nature.

April 2014

High-throughput screen finds genes that link neurons

by  /  30 April 2014

A new algorithm allows researchers to search among hundreds of genes and identify those involved in building synapses, the junctions that transmit signals between neurons, according to a report published 14 March in PLoS One.


Scaled-down device detects brain activity in children

by  /  23 April 2014

A new device designed to conduct magneto-electroencephalography in children younger than 3 years is ideal for detecting early signs of autism, researchers reported 3 March in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 


Statistical model rates billions of human mutations

by  /  16 April 2014

A new statistical system ranks the potential harm done by each of the nearly 9 billion possible variants in the human genome, researchers reported in March in Nature Genetics.


Engineered monkeys carry autism-linked mutations

by  /  9 April 2014

Researchers have created the first genetic monkey model of autism, they reported 6 March in Cell Stem Cell. The female monkey has a mutated version of the MeCP2 gene that causes Rett syndrome.


Analysis of movement patterns may reveal autism severity

by  /  2 April 2014

An automated system developed for tracking the movements of lab animals can be used to accurately map the activity of children with autism, researchers reported in the February Molecular Autism. When given free rein, the system found, children with autism tend to explore a room’s edges, whereas those with other developmental disorders cling to their parents.


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