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Expert opinions on trends and controversies in autism research.

Previous articles

March 2011
Opinion / Viewpoint

Why fold Asperger syndrome into autism spectrum disorder in the DSM-5?

by  /  29 March 2011

In the new diagnostic manual for psychiatric disorders, Asperger syndrome will be folded into autism spectrum disorder. Francesca Happé, a member of the committee that made the recommendation, explains the rationale behind the decision.

21 Comments
Opinion / Viewpoint

False-belief tasks are distinct from theory of mind

by  /  15 March 2011

Languages lacking words for feelings can lead to ‘mind-blindness,’ a feature of autism, according to a 2009 study. Cognitive neuroscientist Helen Tager-Flusberg argues that language delay only partially explains the theory of mind deficits seen in people with autism.

1 Comment
January 2009
Opinion / Viewpoint

The 2003 paper linking neuroligins to autism

by ,  /  12 January 2009

In 2003, Stephane Jamain and his colleagues reached a breakthrough by taking a candidate approach to the X chromosome, and linking members of the neuroligin protein family to autism.

0 Comments
October 2008
Opinion / Viewpoint

In search of meaningful copy number variations

by  /  24 October 2008

In the past few months, researchers have published dozens of reports linking single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with susceptibility to a range of common diseases.

0 Comments
August 2008
Opinion / Viewpoint

Papers that defined diagnostic tools for autism research

by ,  /  14 August 2008

It took 50 years for scientists to develop instruments reliable enough to be considered the gold standards for diagnosing autism. Autism has always been around, but it was not until the mid-1940s that Leo Kanner in the United States and Hans Asperger in Austria, both physicians, independently described children with what we now recognize as autism.

0 Comments
May 2008
Opinion / Viewpoint

1985 paper on the theory of mind

by  /  9 May 2008

In 1985, Simon Baron-Cohen, Alan Leslie and Uta Frith reported for the first time that children with autism systematically fail the false belief task.

6 Comments
March 2008
Opinion / Viewpoint

1977 paper on the first autism twin study

by ,  /  19 March 2008

Autism is caused by poor parenting, particularly by ‘frigid’ mothers who reject their children. Such a statement would seem bizarre today. But 30 years ago parents, especially mothers, were blamed for their childrenʼs autism. But then in 1977, one study, published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, single-handedly turned the field around to recognize the importance of genetics.

0 Comments
January 2008
Opinion / Viewpoint

The 1999 Rett syndrome paper

by  /  3 January 2008

Huda Zoghbi and her colleagues painstakingly sequenced the candidate genes for Rett syndrome, culminating in the 1999 Nature Genetics report that pinpointed six de novo mutations in the MeCP2 gene as the cause of the disorder.

0 Comments
December 2007
Opinion / Viewpoint

Leo Kanner’s 1943 paper on autism

by  /  7 December 2007

Donald T. was not like other 5-year-old boys. Leo Kanner knew that the moment he read the 33-page letter from Donaldʼs father that described the boy in obsessive detail as “happiest when he was alone… drawing into a shell and living within himself… oblivious to everything around him.”

25 Comments

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