Children with autism who have older siblings score lower on tests that assess their understanding of the thoughts, feelings and intentions of others, compared with those who don’t have older siblings.
Copy number variations, or CNVs — duplications or deletions of DNA segments — can influence the expression of unrelated genes on the same chromosome, according to a study published in November in PLOS Biology.
Mice bearing the genetic defect that causes Timothy syndrome show many autism-like behaviors, and may also have enhanced cognitive abilities like those seen in a small number of people with autism, suggests a poster presented Sunday at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego.
A new study, published in September in PLOS Genetics, shows the importance of comparing cases to controls when linking mutations to a disorder. The researchers propose a new method of analysis that takes into account the large size of many genes expressed in the brain.
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.
Children with autism have abnormally low brain activity in the ‘reward center’ of the brain when given money or shown a happy face, according to a study in Autism Research. These are the first imaging data to support the notion that children with autism derive less pleasure from social interactions compared with their healthy peers.
Children with Williams syndrome — a rare genetic disorder that leads to mental retardation and overt friendliness — hold stereotypes based on gender, but not race, according to a report published in Current Biology. Because those with Williams syndrome don’t have social fear, the study suggests racial stereotypes are based partly on fear.
Several studies in the past year in people, mice and honeybees have tied autism to a protein that helps neurons communicate. Problems with the protein, neurexin 1, are associated with a wide range of autistic behaviors, such as impaired social interactions, anxiety and problems with learning and memory.
Lithium treatment reverses some of the behavioral and brain-cell abnormalities in mouse models of fragile X syndrome ― an inherited form of mental retardation that includes learning deficits, aggressiveness, and social withdrawal ― according to research presented today at the Society for Neuroscience meeting.