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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.

August 2010

Groups aim to recruit more racial minorities for genetic studies

by  /  6 August 2010

Racial minorities are under-represented in genetic studies, in part because research guidelines do not account for differences in family structure, according to a report based on statistics from several autism gene banks. In response to the report, research teams at Stanford University and the University of California, Los Angeles, are revamping their recruitment practices.

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Power shortage

by  /  5 August 2010

One of the largest genome-wide association studies for autism spectrum disorders, reported last week in Human Molecular Genetics, allows only one definitive conclusion: it isn’t large enough.

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Spoken word

by  /  2 August 2010

Children with autism are known to have strange rhythms and pitch to their speech, and they speak less often or for shorter periods. Based on these patterns, a company promises to accurately identify children with the disorder.

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July 2010

Scientists flash videos of brain development in fragile X

by  /  30 July 2010

Scientists have for the first time captured a dynamic picture of brain defects in young mouse models of fragile X syndrome. The findings appeared in June in the Journal of Neuroscience.

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Promising treatment

by  /  29 July 2010

Families affected by fragile X syndrome can let out a modest cheer this week: the largest-ever randomized trial of a drug to treat the syndrome has just cleared its second phase.

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Neurexin found to have diverse partners at synapse

by  /  27 July 2010

Scientists have discovered that neurexins — proteins linked to autism — bind to a wide variety of molecules at the junction between neurons. In this complicated system, the breakdown of any one of the parts could lead to improper cell signaling, ultimately giving rise to disease.

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Social interactions not rewarding for children with autism

by  /  23 July 2010

Children with autism have abnormally low brain activity in the ‘reward center’ of the brain when given money or shown a happy face, according to a study in Autism Research. These are the first imaging data to support the notion that children with autism derive less pleasure from social interactions compared with their healthy peers.

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Obsessive mice

by  /  21 July 2010

The biology of obsessive-compulsive disorder becomes even more baffling with the release of two new mouse models, each implicating a different type of brain cell.

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Study finds weak genetic link between autism and intelligence

by  /  20 July 2010

Autism and intellectual disability often occur together, but in most cases that overlap is not genetic, according to a study of twin pairs published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics. Unraveling this link might help researchers pinpoint brain circuits involved in both conditions, and better understand the diversity of symptoms in the autism spectrum, experts say.

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Vasopressin’s sexier side

by  /  14 July 2010

Researchers have pinpointed the brain circuits that underlie the vasopressin hormone’s role in regulating emotions.

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