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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.

October 2010

Estrogen reverses autism-like features in mice

by  /  4 October 2010

Two new studies provide clues that may explain sex differences in autism prevalence. Italian researchers have found that injecting estrogen into the brains of young male mice reverses some of the structural and behavioral changes associated with low levels of reelin — a brain protein that has been previously implicated in autism — and the effects endure into adulthood.

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September 2010

All included

by  /  1 September 2010

A decade ago, children with disabilities were almost always separated into their own rooms — or even buildings — with specialized teachers and lessons. But some research since then has shown that many of these children can learn well alongside healthy children, and vice versa.

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August 2010

Risky secrets

by  /  30 August 2010

For a few hundred dollars and a bit of your spit, you can have parts of your DNA analyzed. If you’re more ambitious, $20,000 — and a lot less than that a year from now — will buy you the sequence of your entire genome. But the real question is should you, and others like you, find out what secrets your genome holds?

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Beware the hype

by  /  18 August 2010

If you believe the hype about oxytocin, it’s nothing short of a wonder drug: it can make you trust a stranger, enhance a mother’s bond with her child and, according to a study published earlier this year, improve social skills in individuals with autism. But look more closely, and there is ample cause for caution.

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Diagnostic scans for autism not imminent, experts say

by  /  13 August 2010

An imaging study widely interpreted as heralding a diagnostic brain scan for autism is more preliminary than popular media reports would indicate, according to experts familiar with the work.

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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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Dramatic regression leads to severe autism, study finds

by  /  3 August 2010

Toddlers who abruptly lose language, social or other developmental skills are more likely to have severe autism a few years later compared with children who have consistent delays from an early age. That’s the conclusion of the largest study thus far of autism onset patterns, published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

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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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