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.
Spectrum: Autism Research News
Science & Society
From funding decisions to scientific fraud, a wide range of societal factors shape autism research.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.