A few factors related to childbirth, such as low birth weight or breech birth, are associated with a higher-than-average risk of autism, but none of them show a strong correlation with the disorder on its own.
A new study of twins proposes the controversial claim that environmental influences during early development are just as, if not more, important than genetics. But the findings are not substantially different from those of previous twin studies, however, and some experts are critical of the study’s statistics.
Chemicals produced by their mother’s immune system in utero alter the size of several key brain regions in people with schizophrenia, enlarging chambers that store cerebrospinal fluids, and shrinking parts of the cortex involved in processing emotion and memory.
Tracy Bale, associate professor of neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania, talks about what she calls her “big soapbox issue”: the fallacious idea of a true animal model for a human psychiatric disease — and the pitfalls of over-interpreting rodent behavior.