A protein linked to language development, FOXP2, regulates the autism candidate gene MET, according to a study published 10 August in the Journal of Neuroscience.
Spectrum: Autism Research News
Individuals with autism struggle to switch their attention between sounds and pictures, and are less likely than controls to be distracted by a face, according to two studies published this summer.
Toddlers with autism are less likely to use gestures to communicate than are typically developing children and those with developmental delay or specific language impairment.
Autism studies tend to focus on one part of the spectrum, often excluding those who also have other conditions such as anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder or intellectual disability. The result, some experts say, is piecemeal findings that don’t fit together to generate a whole picture.
Giving GLYX-13, a drug that targets an autism-associated brain pathway, to rats bred to be less social increases how much they communicate while playing.
Mice lacking SHANK1, a member of a family of autism-associated proteins, communicate less with their mothers and potential mates than controls do, according to a study published 9 June in PLoS One.
Deletions or duplications of the UBE3A gene lead to both Angelman syndrome and some cases of autism, respectively. Studying the effects of altered gene dosage in this region will provide insights into brain defects and suggest targets for therapies for both disorders, says expert Benjamin Philpot.