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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.

July 2010

Deep sequencing questions role of imprinted genes in autism

by  /  8 July 2010

The mouse brain has more than 1,300 regions for which the copy from one parent is expressed more often than the one from the other parent, according to two studies published today in Science. These so-called imprinted genes have been proposed to cause some cases of autism, but the researchers say their findings do not support that theory.

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Abnormal brain growth seen in children with fragile X

by  /  7 July 2010

Children with fragile X syndrome show abnormal growth in several brain structures during the first few years of life, according to the first study to track how the disease unfolds in the brain during early development.

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Synaptic defects link autism, schizophrenia

by  /  2 July 2010

Several independent groups have found previously unknown risk genes for autism, schizophrenia and mental retardation. The candidate genes have one thing in common: they encode proteins that are needed for the healthy function of synapses, the junctions between neurons.

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Imaging interactions

by  /  1 July 2010

A clever new method records brain activity during live, back-and-forth social interactions and could help scientists study joint attention — the act of looking at an object the same time someone else does.

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June 2010

Pharma companies set their sights on autism

by  /  29 June 2010

A decade of research on the biology of autism, combined with a steady rise in diagnoses, has finally piqued the pharmaceutical industry’s interest in developing drugs for the disorder. Preliminary data from one small clinical trial already show positive results, and results from several others are expected early this summer.

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Flu triggers schizophrenia-like features in monkeys

by  /  25 June 2010

Babies born to rhesus monkeys infected with the flu virus during pregnancy have significantly smaller brains than normal, and other brain abnormalities seen in schizophrenia, researchers have found. The study, published last month in Biological Psychiatry, provides the first evidence in non-human primates linking flu infection to a higher risk of schizophrenia.

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Simple pathway

by  /  24 June 2010

A study of a rare form of epilepsy found in Amish groups adds heft to the idea that mTOR — a much-studied hub in a massive network of brain cell proteins — is an important biochemical player in autism.

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Faulty connectivity found in mouse model of schizophrenia

by  /  18 June 2010

Mice engineered to carry a well-known risk factor for schizophrenia show disruptions in the connections between two brain regions that coordinate memory and learning. And these disruptions directly cause problems with working memory — the ability to actively hold information and to recall that information to make a decision, according to a study published in Nature.

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Rett gene function extends beyond neurons, study finds

by  /  15 June 2010

Microglia, brain cells that provide immune protection to neurons, may influence the onset and course of Rett syndrome, according to a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

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Pawan Sinha: Bringing a new vision to autism

by  /  8 June 2010

In between setting world records, carrying out vision experiments on his infant son, and launching a campaign to build a large eye hospital in New Delhi, Pawan Sinha is illuminating new facets of autism.

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