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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.

September 2021
neurons in organoids

Protein inhibitor normalizes neuronal migration in organoid model of autism

by  /  1 September 2021

Inhibiting a protein that helps cells move or change shape prevents atypical neuronal migration in 3D clusters of brain cells carrying autism-linked genetic variants.

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August 2021
Micrograph showing missing sodium ion channels in cerebral cortex of mice with two mutated copies of SCN2A gene.

Model mice hint at sodium channel gene’s contribution to autism

by  /  27 August 2021

Altered electrical activity in the neurons of mice with a mutated copy of SCN2A may explain the animals’ autism-like social behaviors.

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Close-up profile of child with focus on eye.

Visual response shows promise as biomarker in autism-linked condition

by  /  23 August 2021

Brain responses to visual stimuli are smaller and weaker in children with Phelan-McDermid syndrome, an autism-linked genetic condition, than in non-autistic children.

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Micrograph showing highlighted genes related to autism in the thalamus.

Brain’s sensory processor may prompt memory problems in autism

by  /  19 August 2021

Mice with autism- or schizophrenia-linked mutations only in the anterodorsal thalamus have problems with long-term and working memory.

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Illustration of brain showing overexcited and underexcited parts of the brain represented by jagged and loose squiggles.

Disruptions to brain’s ‘thermostat’ may underpin autism traits

by  /  18 August 2021

Mounting evidence suggests that autism often involves upsets in homeostatic plasticity, a set of processes neurons use to stabilize their activity. These disruptions result from a range of autism-linked mutations and may help to explain the condition’s famed heterogeneity.

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Young patient speaking to counselor.

Q&A with Brenda Finucane: Building pipelines for genetic tests for autism

by  /  17 August 2021

Most autistic people do not receive the medically recommended genetic tests for autism. Brenda Finucane and her colleagues want to change that.

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Molecular overlap links tuberous sclerosis, fragile X

by  /  16 August 2021

Brain cells from the cerebellums of mice that model tuberous sclerosis show dampened levels of proteins controlled by FMRP, the protein missing in fragile X syndrome.

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Holly Stessman standing in her garden looking up and holding her two chickens.

Beyond the Bench: A conversation with Holly Stessman

by  /  13 August 2021

When Holly Stessman isn’t probing autism genes, she is tending to her flock of chickens or seeking out the next great sci-fi movie.

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Colorful illustration of child's brain with electrodes connected EEG wave patterns, DNA strand, and playing siblings.

Connecting autism-linked genetic variation to infant social behavior

by ,  /  10 August 2021

Integrating genetic analyses into studies of babies’ brain development could help us understand how autism-related genes contribute to autism traits.

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Twin boys sleeping on green sheets.

Genetic roots of sleep issues, autism may be entwined

by  /  9 August 2021

The same genetic factors may underlie both autism and autistic people’s tendency to have sleep problems, such as insomnia.

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