People with autism who inhaled regular doses of the hormone oxytocin were better at recognizing others’ emotions and reported a higher quality of life than those who took a placebo, according to a small study published 5 December in Molecular Autism.
Spectrum: Autism Research News
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.
Among siblings of children with autism, those with better prefrontal cortex functioning — observable as relatively strong executive functions for their age — are better able to compensate for atypicalities in other brain systems early in life, and are therefore less likely to receive a diagnosis of autism later in their development, argues Mark H. Johnson.
Fluoxetine, an antidepressant marketed as Prozac, may alleviate repetitive behaviors in adults with autism, according to a study published 2 December in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
New studies of restricted and repetitive behaviors link autism to other disorders and may lead to more effective treatments.
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.
Neurexin 1, an autism-associated protein that functions at the junctions between neurons, has a flexible hinge that can toggle the protein between a more compact or a more accessible shape, a crystal structure published 8 June in Structure reveals.
Mice with a mutation in SHANK3, a leading autism candidate gene, show moderate social defects, including less-than-normal interest in other mice. The findings, published 27 May in Cell, suggest that mutations in different sites on the gene can lead to different behaviors. This paper was retracted on 17 January 2013. Associate director of research Alan Packer discusses the implications of the retraction here.
A compound that activates a pathway related to learning and memory can enhance pair-bonding between prairie voles, according to a study published 7 April in Biological Psychiatry. Enhancing social learning — an individual’s response to social cues — during development could help treat autism.
Smaller-than-normal volume in several brain regions, including a region involved in relaying motor signals, could be a marker for repetitive behavior in 3-year-old children, according to a study published 7 April in Autism Research.