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The Brain

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

March 2021
News

Innate stress response may link maternal infection to autism

by  /  19 March 2021

A typically protective stress response could help to explain the connection between maternal illness and neurodevelopmental conditions.

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Oligodendrocyte shown orange on black in this scanning electron micrograph.
News

How oligodendrocytes may shape autism

by  /  15 March 2021

A growing body of evidence shows that brain cells called oligodendrocytes may play a larger role in autism than previously thought.

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mouse brain neurons highlighted pink and green.
News / Toolbox

New technique tunes in to molecular chatter in neurons

by  /  11 March 2021

Researchers have devised a way to use fluorescent sensors to detect many different signaling molecules in a cell at once.

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Nasal sprayer makes a brain shape out of its spray.
Opinion / Viewpoint

How to improve oxytocin research for autism

by ,  /  9 March 2021

To guard against hype, scientists studying oxytocin’s role in autism and its potential as a treatment need to embrace robust theories, rigorous delivery methods and reproducible research practices.

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Tiny cortical organoids in petri dish
News

Year-old organoids echo genetic shifts seen at birth

by  /  8 March 2021

3D cultures of human brain cells kept alive for more than a year undergo transitions in gene activity that resemble those seen in newborns, and may be used to study autism genes in postnatal stages of brain development.

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A digital rendering of a green neuron on black
News

Brain activity jump-starts autism-linked genes in human neurons

by  /  5 March 2021

Some neurons activate autism-linked genes when they fire, according to a new study.

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Scientists Damien Fair, Constance Hicks-Smith and Brian Boyd
News / Profiles

Black autism researchers weigh in on field’s past, future

by  /  3 March 2021

Spectrum spoke with three Black scientists about why they got into autism research, what keeps them excited about their work and how the field could become more diverse.

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News

Broken protein bridge linked to Rett syndrome traits

by  /  1 March 2021

Altering a protein linked to Rett syndrome so that it cannot bind to a methylation tag in neurons results in Rett-like traits in mice.

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February 2021
Oil and water with colors behind: blue, green, yellow and red.
Opinion / Q&A

How microscopic ‘condensates’ in cells might contribute to autism

by  /  23 February 2021

A controversial idea about how cells compartmentalize their contents into droplets — like beads of oil in water — could be key to understanding autism, says Julie Forman-Kay.

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Oligodendrocyte gene grouping showing network of blue lines connecting the gene names on reddish bubbles.
News

Differing gene functions across species may pose problems for autism models

by  /  22 February 2021

Misaligned gene expression maps suggest that some autism-linked genes play distinct roles in mouse and human brains.

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