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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.

March 2012

Online tool can predict effects of genetic variants

by  /  21 March 2012

Researchers have developed a tool that can predict whether DNA mutations that change a single base pair are likely to alter RNA splicing, a process that modifies the sequence of mRNA, the genetic message that codes for protein. The results were published 10 February in Bioinformatics.

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Incidental findings

by  /  16 March 2012

A survey asks clinical geneticists what type of incidental findings should be returned to people who have their genomes sequenced.

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More sensitive prenatal tests detect autism-linked variants

by  /  12 March 2012

Prenatal genetic tests that can detect copy number variations, including those linked to autism, could raise tough questions for doctors and parents.

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Clinical trials for autism treatments go online

by  /  8 March 2012

A new clinical trial, conducted entirely online, could provide a model for how to quickly and efficiently test some potential treatments for autism.

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Genetics: Maternal and paternal age increase risk of autism

by  /  6 March 2012

The odds of having a child with autism begin to rise at age 35 for both men and women, but that risk does not increase further when both parents are over 35, according to a large study published in the March issue of Annals of Epidemiology.

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February 2012

MRI devices for children reduce head motion in scanner

by  /  29 February 2012

Researchers have developed functional magnetic imaging devices that are optimized to fit children’s heads, according to a study published in the December issue of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine. These tools increase the quality of the data and deter head motion, which research suggests can lead to spurious results.

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Clinical research: Autism genes linked to autoimmune disease

by  /  29 February 2012

The genetic risk factors for autism may also increase a person’s risk of developing ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis of the spine, and decrease the risk of multiple sclerosis, according to a study published 13 December in Translational Psychiatry.

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Documentary review: ‘Le Mur’ (‘The Wall’)

by  /  28 February 2012

The French documentary Le Mur (The Wall) shows that many psychoanalysts in France shun biological explanations for autism.

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Cognition and behavior: Contaminant acts with autism gene

by  /  28 February 2012

A commonly used flame retardant may lead to deficits in sociability, learning and memory in healthy female mice and those that model Rett syndrome, according to a study published 15 February in Human Molecular Genetics. The effects are different in Rett syndrome models compared with healthy mice, suggesting gene-environment interactions.

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Music reigns

by  /  21 February 2012

Brain imaging studies of people with autism show that specific areas respond more strongly to song than do those of controls. The opposite is true when listening to speech.

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