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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.

September 2021
Stack of journals.

Autism study earns ‘expression of concern’ over unavailable data

by  /  3 September 2021

An autism brain imaging study published seven years ago received an expression of concern last month after its authors failed to uphold a promise to make their raw data freely available.

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August 2021

Validating autism subtypes: A crucial but often overlooked step in research

by ,  /  31 August 2021

Studies of autism subtypes rarely validate their results, and this has led to a proliferation of autism subtypes of questionable utility. But reliable subtyping can help improve the prognosis for and care of autistic people.

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Mom and toddler with audio recording device

Video: Wearable sensors pick up early signs of autism

by  /  30 August 2021

Audio and motion-sensor recordings offer a remote window into a baby’s first years and make it easier for families to participate in research.

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Scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of bacteria cultured from a sample of human faeces.

New library catalogs the human gut microbiome

by  /  25 August 2021

Researchers put hundreds of gut bacteria strains through their paces to chart the compounds each creates — and to help others explore the flora’s potential contribution to autism.

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Illustration shows a woman thinking as she is surrounded by signs with feelings on them and question marks.

Measuring alexithymia in autistic people

by ,  /  24 August 2021

Despite the growing interest in alexithymia in autism research, the tools commonly used to measure this trait may not work reliably in autistic populations. A new scoring method fills that gap.

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Illustration of brain showing overexcited and underexcited parts of the brain represented by jagged and loose squiggles.

Disruptions to brain’s ‘thermostat’ may underpin autism traits

by  /  18 August 2021

Mounting evidence suggests that autism often involves upsets in homeostatic plasticity, a set of processes neurons use to stabilize their activity. These disruptions result from a range of autism-linked mutations and may help to explain the condition’s famed heterogeneity.

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Closeup of tiny newborn hand gripping tip of adult thumb.

Large study strengthens link between autism, preterm birth

by  /  11 August 2021

Premature birth is tied to an increased chance of having autism, according to the largest study yet looking for a potential connection.

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Colorful illustration of child's brain with electrodes connected EEG wave patterns, DNA strand, and playing siblings.

Connecting autism-linked genetic variation to infant social behavior

by ,  /  10 August 2021

Integrating genetic analyses into studies of babies’ brain development could help us understand how autism-related genes contribute to autism traits.

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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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