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Spectrum: Autism Research News

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Science & Society

From funding decisions to scientific fraud, a wide range of societal factors shape autism research.

January 2015

Science’s gender gap tied to beliefs about brilliance

by  /  27 January 2015

The gender gap in science is strongest in fields that most value innate intelligence — perhaps because of mistaken impressions about the differences in innate intelligence between men and women.


Tweak to molecular scissors cuts path to turn on genes

by  /  26 January 2015

A new technique allows scientists to turn on the expression of any gene, giving them the unprecedented ability to explore the function of every gene in the human genome.


Small snippets of genes may have big effects in autism

by  /  22 January 2015

Small pieces of DNA within genes, dubbed ‘microexons,’ are abnormally regulated in people with autism, suggests a study of postmortem brains.


Small study bolsters difficult search for autism blood test

by  /  13 January 2015

A set of small molecules in the blood can distinguish people with autism from controls with 81 percent accuracy, claims a biotech firm, but the test faces a long and difficult road to clinical use.


Head movement in scanners skews brain measurements

by  /  9 January 2015

Even small movements of the head during magnetic resonance imaging can lead to spurious measurements of brain structures, according to a new study.


Thought test hints at neural signature for autism

by  /  6 January 2015

People with autism show unique patterns of brain activation when thinking about social words, such as ‘hug.’ But new findings highlight the dangers of using thoughts as biomarkers for the disorder.

December 2014

Diffusion imaging of human connectome doesn’t hold water

by  /  23 December 2014

The colorful brain maps created with diffusion imaging — a technique that uses the flow of water as a proxy for nerve tracts — are unlikely to represent the brain’s anatomy with accuracy, says a new study.


Postmortem brains point to molecular signature of autism

by  /  22 December 2014

An analysis of genes expressed in the postmortem brains of people with autism has identified three molecular pathways linked to the disorder. The findings, published 10 December in Nature Communications, add to mounting evidence that the myriad causes of autism converge on common biological processes.


Method isolates protein complexes from neuronal junctions

by  /  17 December 2014

Researchers have for the first time isolated and characterized protein complexes found at the points of connection between neurons. Mutations in some of these proteins are linked to autism.


Future of autism genetics should learn from its past

by  /  9 December 2014

To optimize the search for autism genes, researchers should collect large numbers of sequences — but the sequences need to be of the right kind, says Michael Ronemus.