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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.

January 2011

Mouse model mirrors social quirks of Williams syndrome

by  /  13 January 2011

Mice lacking one copy of a gene associated with Williams syndrome share the hyper-sociability of people with the disorder, according to a paper published online 3 December in Autism Research.


Some siblings of children with autism only share traits

by  /  10 January 2011

The goal of studying siblings of children with autism is to identify an early diagnostic marker for the disorder. What researchers are finding instead are distinct traits shared by family members who remain healthy.

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IQ scores not a good measure of function in autism

by  /  6 January 2011

Most studies define high-functioning children as those with an IQ above 70 or 80, but this is problematic for a number of reasons, say some scientists. The assumption underlying the use of high IQ as a synonym for high functioning is suspect because social and communicative abilities may have a far greater impact on an individual’s daily interactions.


High-tech national project set to trace brain’s connections

by  /  4 January 2011

Over the next five years, dozens of researchers funded by the $40 million ‘NIH Human Connectome Project’ will map the circuits of the human brain, tracing neural pathways and learning how different regions work together in synchrony.


Genetics: Spontaneous mutations lead to mental retardation

by  /  3 January 2011

Spontaneous mutations that change a single DNA base account for a large proportion of cases of unexplained mental retardation, according to a study published in the December Nature Genetics.

December 2010

Jumping genes implicated in Rett syndrome

by  /  27 December 2010

The neurons of people with Rett syndrome contain an overabundance of retrotransposons — DNA sequences that copy and insert themselves into new spots throughout the genome — during early development, according to a study published 18 November in Nature.


Genetics: Gene interaction map reveals disease response

by  /  21 December 2010

The pattern of interactions among different genes in yeast cells changes in response to disease-like conditions, in this case a DNA-damaging agent, according to a study published 3 December in Science. Mapping epistasis — how various cellular factors work together — is key to understanding complex disorders, such as autism.


Genetics: Gene that controls methylation linked to autism

by  /  17 December 2010

A gene involved in epigenetics — regulation of gene expression by modifying DNA, but without altering the sequence — is associated with autism in families that have only one child with the disorder, according to a study published in November.


Molecular mechanisms: Imaging technique reveals brain’s diversity

by  /  14 December 2010

A new technique called array tomography allows researchers to visualize individual synapses, the complex junctions between neurons, in the mouse brain. Researchers have also identified several markers that highlight the incredible diversity of synapse types.

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The full spectrum

by  /  14 December 2010

Scientists have debated the relationship between autism and schizophrenia for decades. A review published last month suggests they are two sides of the same neurobiological coin.