To understand the amygdala’s role in autism, researchers should study its connections with other brain structures and explore its role in development, says Ralph Adolphs.
Spectrum: Autism Research News
Researchers have uncovered a new role for the protein missing in fragile X syndrome — it regulates the release of neurotransmitters, chemical messengers in the brain, according to a mouse study published 20 February in Neuron.
Mice missing one copy of neurobeachin, an autism-linked gene that fine-tunes signals at neuronal junctions, show autism-like behaviors, according to a study set to be published in the March issue of Neurobiology of Disease.
Memantine, a drug used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, can reverse autism-like features in mice lacking one copy of the MEF2C gene, according to a poster presented last week at the Salk Institute, Fondation IPSEN and Nature Symposium on Biological Complexity in La Jolla, California.
Mutations in SYNGAP1, which are associated with severe intellectual disability and an increased risk of autism, do damage by speeding up the rate at which neuronal connections mature, according to a mouse study published 9 November in Cell.
Researchers have genetically engineered neurons to fluoresce in response to the calcium signals emitted when they fire, according to a study published 18 October in Neuron.
Prenatal exposure to antibodies collected from the mothers of children with autism boosts stem cell proliferation in the brains of mice, according to two studies presented at the 2012 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in New Orleans.
The so-called ‘spiny mouse’ species has a gestational period twice as long as that of typical laboratory mice. This makes them good models for studying the link between prenatal exposure and autism risk, according to a study published 29 August in Brain, Behavior and Immunity.
A compound called baclofen restores the balance between different types of brain signals and alleviates autism-like behaviors in mice, according to a study published 17 July in Translational Psychiatry. A similar drug called arbaclofen is in clinical trials as a treatment for autism and fragile X syndrome.