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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.

June 2012

Autism research may require tens of thousands of samples

by  /  18 June 2012

Rare variants make up the vast majority of human genetic variation, according to two independent papers published in May in Science. That means that genetic studies of complex diseases such as autism are likely to require tens of thousands of participants.

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a hand holds a slide of a brain slice against a light white background

Loss of autism brain samples highlights need for donations

by  /  14 June 2012

A freezer malfunction that damaged a third of the largest collection of autism brain tissue points to the dire need for more donations, a better system for eliciting them, and a coordinated effort for storing and distributing tissue.


Sensory experience

by  /  12 June 2012

A Dutch multimedia project attempts to convey how people with autism experience the world.

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Counting conditions

by  /  8 June 2012

A tool designed to detect psychiatric disorders in people with autism may produce more accurate estimates of co-occurring conditions.


Genetics: 2q21.1 variations link autism, attention deficit

by  /  8 June 2012

Researchers have found deletions and duplications of a small piece of chromosome 2 in individuals with autism, developmental delay, epilepsy or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

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Radio waves turn on gene expression

by  /  6 June 2012

The heat produced by radio waves can interact with metallic nanoparticles bound to temperature-sensitive ion channels in cells, allowing researchers to remotely alter gene expression in live animals, according to a study published 4 May in Science. The technique could also be used to activate neuronal signals by manipulating calcium influx into neurons, the researchers say. 

May 2012

Population-based studies key for assessing autism prevalence

by  /  29 May 2012

Studies of autism prevalence should screen a representative sample of all individuals in the population, even those with no indications of the disorder, says epidemiologist Young-Shin Kim.

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In autism, head growth patterns vary by gender

by  /  24 May 2012

Girls diagnosed with autism have slower brain growth in the first year of their life than typically developing children, whereas boys’ brains grow at the same rate as those of typical children, according to a population-based study in Norway.


Robot replaces neuroscientists in technique

by  /  23 May 2012

A robot can replace researchers in performing a painstaking technique that records neuronal signals in live animal brains, according to a study published 6 May in Nature Methods.


Genetics: Mutations at neuronal junctions linked to autism

by  /  22 May 2012

Researchers have identified four new mutations in the autism-linked gene neurexin-1 in individuals who have autism and severe intellectual disability, they reported 3 April in Neurobiology of Disease.