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Spectrum: Autism Research News

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Rare or common, inherited or spontaneous, mutations form the core of autism risk.

July 2011

Insights for autism from Angelman syndrome

by , ,  /  19 July 2011

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.


Molecular mechanisms: Autism mutants cause cell stress

by  /  19 July 2011

Some autism-associated mutations activate a stress response that could lead to symptoms of the disorder, according to a study published 3 June in Cell Death and Disease.


Mouse study raises questions about fragile X treatment

by  /  18 July 2011

Blocking a chemical messenger — a much-touted approach to treating fragile X syndrome — is unlikely to completely reverse symptoms of the disorder, according to a provocative new study. The results, published in May in Behavioural Brain Research, show only modest behavioral improvements with the approach.


Cognition and behavior: Study questions claims of visual acuity in autism

by  /  15 July 2011

Individuals with autism do not have so-called ‘eagle-eyed’ vision as reported by some studies, according to research published 10 June in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.


Experts critique statistics, conclusion of autism twin study

by  /  14 July 2011

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.


Clinical research: Blood test could recommend drug treatment

by  /  13 July 2011

Children who express a subset of genes — including one located in the autism-associated chromosomal region 16p11.2 — at higher or lower levels than normal benefit from treatment with the antipsychotic drug risperidone, according to a study published 7 June in the Pharmacogenomics Journal.


Computer algorithm boosts power of sequencing studies

by  /  13 July 2011

A new computer algorithm has identified the gene responsible for a newly discovered human disease, researchers report this week in The American Journal of Human Genetics. Unlike traditional methods, the algorithm takes into account both the odds of a particular genetic variant being associated with the disorder and the variant’s effect on protein function.


Molecular mechanisms: Neurexin 1 forms flexible shape

by  /  12 July 2011

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.


Brains of toddlers with autism out of sync

by  /  11 July 2011

Many toddlers with autism have weak connections between the two sides of the brain, according to the first-ever analysis of brain connections in young children with the disorder, published 23 June in Neuron.


Lonely hunters

by  /  8 July 2011

Cognitive traits associated with autism may have helped our ancestors survive, according to a fascinating new study. But those traits are no longer an advantage.