Doctors are more likely to miss autism in girls, even when their symptoms are as severe as those of boys, adding to the gender bias that exists in autism.
Oxytocin may activate the mirror neuron system — a group of neurons that is active when people empathize with others — according to a paper published in the November Psychoneuroendocrinology.
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.
Individuals with autism detect the motion of an object with the same accuracy as they detect the motion of people, whereas controls are more attuned to human movement, according to a study published in August in Autism Research.
Mirror neurons, which fire when someone either performs an action or observes it, are not defective in people with autism, scientists report today in Neuron. The findings dispute the theory that flaws in the mirror neuron system give rise to the disorder.
Researchers have found a higher density of several types of interneurons — nerve cells that connect sensory and motor neurons in the brain— in postmortem brain tissue from individuals with autism, compared with healthy controls. The findings appear in the February issue of Acta Neurologica Scandinavica.
Genetic variations that tweak the brain’s release of oxytocin — a hormone involved in social bonding and establishing trust — may increase the risk of developing autism or traits of the disorder, according to three new studies published in the past few months.