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Spectrum: Autism Research News

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Genes

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

April 2011

Space cadets

by  /  18 April 2011

People with autism are better able to visualize objects rotating in space — perhaps because their brains are wired differently than healthy controls.

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Maternal stress alters behavior of generations

by  /  18 April 2011

Early trauma alters both behavior and gene expression in three generations of mice, suggesting that epigenetic changes may contribute to ‘hidden heritability’ in neuropsychiatric disorders.

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An ape with ‘autism’

by  /  15 April 2011

Similarities between us and our closest ape relatives — chimpanzees and bonobos — have shaped our understanding of what it means to be human. The latest surprise is Teco, a young bonobo who shows behaviors that look suspiciously similar to those associated with autism.

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Thomas Südhof: Exploring connections between neurons, nations

by  /  14 April 2011

Thomas Südhof has achieved stellar scientific results with a style that colleagues call typically German — sober, meticulous and highly competitive.

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Genetics: Small chromosome changes are rare, inherited

by  /  13 April 2011

Small duplications or deletions of DNA regions — called micro-copy number variations — may not lead directly to disease, but could raise the risk of autism when combined with other mutations, according to a study published in March in the American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics.

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Genetics: Gene expression study links paternal age to autism

by  /  12 April 2011

Children with autism and those who have fathers older than 31 both have lower-than-normal levels of proteins that regulate other genes, according to a study published in February in PLoS One.

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Genetics: New autism mouse reveals candidate gene

by  /  6 April 2011

A new mouse model for autism has obsessive behaviors and is less social and emits fewer vocalizations than controls, according to a study published 17 March in Behavioral Brain Research. These features could be be the result of much higher levels of FAM46, a gene of unknown function that may be involved in signaling between cells.

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Seeking counsel

by  /  5 April 2011

Practical and ethical challenges in translational research could be better overcome if clinical researchers were to add genetic counselors to their teams, a new report argues.

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Genetics: Deep sequencing reveals rare mutations

by  /  5 April 2011

Rare mutations with strong effects play a key role in autism and schizophrenia, according to a study published in February in PLoS Genetics. The study identifies rare harmful mutations in three candidate genes that are more common in individuals with one of the disorders than in controls.

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Brain activity explains keen visual skills in autism, group says

by  /  4 April 2011

Individuals with autism use more brainpower in regions linked to visual perception, and less in those related to planning thoughts and actions, compared with healthy controls, according to a multi-study analysis published today in Human Brain Mapping.

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