A variant of the autism risk gene CNTNAP2 may alter the brain to emphasize connections between nearby regions and diminish those between more distant ones, according to a study published 3 November in Science Translational Medicine.
The parts of the brain that help us pay attention to some things and not others have specialized regions for different senses, such as sight and sound, according to a paper published online in November in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Areas of the brain that are active when people are daydreaming or sleeping, and quiet when they are engaged in a task, are imperfectly synchronized in people with autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, researchers say.
Important language areas in the brain don’t show the expected patterns of connectivity when people with autism listen to speech, suggests a poster presented Monday at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego.
Mice missing a large protein at the junction between neurons show motor impairments, anxiety and increased social behaviors, according to a study in the American Journal of Psychiatry. The protein, postsynaptic density-95 or PSD-95, is part of a key molecular bridge connecting other proteins linked to autism.
Two new studies provide clues that may explain sex differences in autism prevalence. Italian researchers have found that injecting estrogen into the brains of young male mice reverses some of the structural and behavioral changes associated with low levels of reelin — a brain protein that has been previously implicated in autism — and the effects endure into adulthood.
Telling jokes allows children to connect with others, refine their language skills and develop keen imaginations. Because these are precisely the skills lacking in people with autism, studying humor in children with the disorder may give insights into their abnormal brain circuitry and even lead to therapies, according to a review published in the Journal of Child Neurology.
Damage to the amygdala — a region of the brain that regulates emotional processing — does not cause autism, according to a study of two individuals with lesions in the region. The study, published in September in the Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, found that these individuals show no evidence of autism when given multiple diagnostic tests.
Researchers have uncovered an important molecular piece of a learning mechanism that occurs at the junction between neurons. The findings, which may help understand how the brain is disrupted in disorders such as autism, appear in the 24 June issue of Neuron.