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Spectrum: Autism Research News

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Signs & Symptoms

Autism’s core symptoms accompany a constellation of subtle signs that scientists are just beginning to unmask.

April 2010

Best-laid plans

by  /  28 April 2010

Despite dozens of studies, researchers have not been able to agree on whether people with autism have trouble with planning skills. The inconsistency in results may be because of differences in short-term memory, according to a new study.

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Scientists find molecular player in Angelman syndrome

by  /  27 April 2010

Two independent teams have discovered key molecular steps in the way a single gene disrupts the connections between neurons in individuals with Angelman syndrome. Because the gene, UBE3A, has also been linked to autism, the findings could help scientists understand and treat a range of neurodevelopmental disorders.

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Researchers probe genetic overlap between ADHD, autism

by  /  22 April 2010

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism may have more in common than childhood onset and a few similar symptoms. New research suggests the conditions share genetic roots.

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Parental trust

by  /  21 April 2010

Many parents of children with autism show some mild traits of the disorder. Research on this group — labeled with the ‘broad autism phenotype’, or BAP — suggests that the genetic underpinnings that lead to language or social problems can manifest in very different ways.

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Scientists finger neurexin 1 defects in autism

by  /  20 April 2010

Several studies in the past year in people, mice and honeybees have tied autism to a protein that helps neurons communicate. Problems with the protein, neurexin 1, are associated with a wide range of autistic behaviors, such as impaired social interactions, anxiety and problems with learning and memory.

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Autism not a fundamental problem of attention, study says

by  /  16 April 2010

Toddlers with autism pay less attention to faces than do healthy controls, but both groups give equal attention to objects, according to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. The findings challenge the idea that individuals with autism have a generalized problem with attention, suggesting instead that they struggle with attending specifically to social stimuli, researchers say.

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Measuring expression

by  /  14 April 2010

To examine protein interactions inside brain cells, scientists typically zero in on one gene at a time. A new method described in today’s Nature simultaneously measures expression of the whole genome.

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Random genetic changes may explain variability in autism

by  /  13 April 2010

Random changes in gene expression can cause genetically identical embryos to develop different traits, according to a study of worms published in Nature. The findings suggest that haphazard movements of molecules could partly explain why autism-associated mutations don’t always cause the same symptoms.

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Psychiatry’s new game plan

by  /  12 April 2010

Writing in Science, leading scientists call for a 10-year, $2 billion international scheme that would combine the latest in genetics and animal research to combat psychiatric diseases.

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Rett gene found to control genome structure in neurons

by  /  9 April 2010

The protein that is mutated in Rett syndrome controls the expression of other genes by changing the way DNA packs into a cell, rather than turning genes on or off, according to a study published in Molecular Cell.

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