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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.

August 2021
Twin boys sleeping on green sheets.

Genetic roots of sleep issues, autism may be entwined

by  /  9 August 2021

The same genetic factors may underlie both autism and autistic people’s tendency to have sleep problems, such as insomnia.

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July 2021
Illustration shows a woman whose mouth is covered by a cloud and whos eyes are covered by a cloud.

Double empathy, explained

by  /  22 July 2021

The double empathy theory challenges the idea that social difficulties are specific to autism and suggests that problems arise from a mismatch in perspective between autistic and non-autistic people.

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Four brown lab mice in a cage, top-down view, with one mouse away from the group.

Autism-linked mutation may blur brain’s boundary between self, others

by  /  15 July 2021

A mutation in the autism-linked gene SHANK3 changes how neurons encode information about social agency in mice.

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Illustration shows yellow landscape with blue sections and a lot of trains on paths with kids on the trains, going different directions.

Mapping the futures of autistic children

by  /  14 July 2021

Researchers can roughly project what autistic children’s lives will look like years down the road. But how good is their crystal ball — and what are its benefits?

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June 2021
Two people having an intense conversation, one unable to make direct eye contact.

Alexithymia, not autism, may drive eye-gaze patterns

by  /  14 June 2021

How autistic people look at a face may be linked more to alexithymia, a condition marked by difficulties recognizing one’s own emotions, than to autism.

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A sheet of paper cut into shreds, and then re-aligned into its original shape.

Copyright claim prompts retraction of study on alexithymia in autism

by  /  9 June 2021

After a study revised a popular measure for alexithymia, it was pulled for copyright infringement because the authors did not pay a $40 fee or obtain permission to use the measure.

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Illustration of transporter mice in brain maze

After 60 years, scientists are still trying to crack a mysterious serotonin-autism link

by  /  4 June 2021

The high levels of serotonin seen in the blood of some autistic people have confounded scientists for more than half a century. Despite so little progress, some researchers refuse to give up.

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May 2021
3D mouse rendering

Virtual mouse helps scientists track behavior

by  /  27 May 2021

An animated mouse reenacts common behavioral experiments and can be used to train algorithms that automatically track lab animals’ movements.

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The first Dutch boy with ‘autism’ — and the nun who cared for him

by  /  25 May 2021

The recognition of autism independently at different times and across different cultures shows the condition has clear boundaries, despite considerable heterogeneity.

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New benchmark for autism scale may help gauge therapies

by  /  18 May 2021

Researchers have defined a change in score on a popular autism rating scale that signifies a meaningful improvement in core traits. The measure could help scientists assess the effectiveness of autism treatments in clinical trials.

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