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Spectrum: Autism Research News

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The Brain

Charting the structure and function of the brain’s many circuits may unravel autism’s mysteries.

Rethinking the origins of neurons: Q&A with Tomasz Nowakowski

by  /  20 January 2022
Excitatory and inhibitory neurons can derive from the same cellular source in the developing human brain, a new study suggests, overturning a 20-year-old hypothesis. Tomasz Nowakowski discusses the finding’s implications for autism research.
Scans of mouse brain slices showing differences in oxytocin levels

Oxytocin alters brain activity to boost sociability in mice missing autism gene

by  /  20 January 2022
Infusions of the hormone oxytocin may make mice that model autism more social by normalizing their brain activity patterns.
Micrograph of intestinal bacteria.

Infection in pregnant mice ups risk of gut problems in pups

by  /  18 January 2022
Infection during pregnancy can tweak a mouse’s gut microbiome in ways that have lasting effects on her pups’ immune system and increase their chances of gut inflammation, a new study suggests.
January 2022

Neuron-specific virus overcomes barriers to brain-related gene therapy

by  /  14 January 2022

A new viral variant can deliver genes exclusively to the brain, overcoming a key hurdle in treating neurological conditions using gene therapy.

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Normal mouse brain (left) vs brain in mouse lacking POGZ gene (right)

Top autism-linked gene boosts DNA accessibility during development

by  /  10 January 2022

Loss of the POGZ gene in mice makes certain genes inaccessible and prevents their expression.

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Cerebral cortex transcript

Alternate RNA versions of genes may shape autism

by  /  7 January 2022

Autism may involve different levels of RNA isoforms encoded by genes in the brain, which express many more proteins than previously thought.

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The connection between oxytocin and autism, explained

by  /  6 January 2022

Oxytocin, cemented in the popular imagination as the “love molecule,” could serve as a treatment for some autistic people who naturally have low levels of the hormone, researchers say.

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New method spotlights synaptic plasticity in living mice

by  /  5 January 2022

Mice that express a fluorescent synaptic receptor reveal the interactions between neurons in unprecedented detail.

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Visual stimulus of 4 circles with black and white stripes.

Visual task flags autistic people who respond to GABA agonists

by  /  5 January 2022

The investigational drug arbaclofen makes autistic people’s brains respond to a visual task more like non-autistic people’s brains do.

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December 2021

Trends in autism research 2021

23 December 2021

As 2021 comes to a close, Spectrum recaps some of the biggest trends in autism science this year: studies of sex differences, noncoding regions of the genome and points of convergence, as well as efforts to improve screening and participatory research.

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Cluster of traits tied to rare mutations in autism-linked gene

by  /  20 December 2021

Developmental delay, intellectual disability and behavioral issues are common among people who have mutations in MYT1L, a gene with strong ties to autism.

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Artificial intelligence system categorizes interactions between mice

by  /  17 December 2021

New software can automatically identify and quantify mouse social behavior from videos, saving researchers time.

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Mouse cortex micrograph

Mutation in new autism candidate gene disrupts social brain area

by  /  16 December 2021

Mice missing a copy of the gene SENP1 have atypical social behavior likely due to a signaling imbalance in the retrosplenial cortex.

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