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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.

March 2010

Evan Eichler: Following his instincts to autism ‘hotspots’

by  /  22 March 2010

With an openness to collaboration and a healthy dose of daring, Evan Eichler has turned his offbeat interest in repeat DNA sequences into a new understanding of how genomes evolve, expediting the search for genes disrupted in autism.

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Face recognition is distinct genetic skill, studies find

by  /  11 March 2010

The ability to recognize faces and interpret facial expressions is programmed partly by genes and inherited separately from other traits, according to three independent studies published this year.

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Studies challenge link between premature birth and autism

by  /  8 March 2010

The proposed connection between premature birth and autism may be more complicated than it seems, according to a new report. Early birth may not cause classically defined autism but, rather, may predispose children to autism-like symptoms that are part of a larger syndrome, the researchers say.

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Postmortem brains point to impaired inhibition in autism

by  /  4 March 2010

Researchers have found a higher density of several types of interneurons — nerve cells that connect sensory and motor neurons in the brain— in postmortem brain tissue from individuals with autism, compared with healthy controls. The findings appear in the February issue of Acta Neurologica Scandinavica.

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Clinical, animal studies probe DISC1’s role in autism

by  /  1 March 2010

Several genetic and animal studies in the past year have found intriguing ties between autism and DISC1, one of the oldest candidate genes for psychiatric disorders.

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February 2010

People with autism stumble on self-other distinctions

by  /  25 February 2010

When thinking about themselves, adults with autism have lower activity in two specific brain regions than do healthy controls, according to an imaging study published in the February issue of Brain.

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Dog pedigrees unearth genes for psychiatric disease

by  /  22 February 2010

Researchers are using dogs as models of psychiatric and behavioral conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorder and autism.

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Pregnancy drugs increase baby’s autism risk, group claims

by  /  16 February 2010

A class of medications widely used during pregnancy to treat asthma and prevent early labor increases the baby’s risk of autism and other psychiatric disorders, according to a controversial review in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

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Tuberous sclerosis linked to brain cell migration

by  /  8 February 2010

The TSC2 gene, mutations in which cause tuberous sclerosis complex, is needed for budding nerve fibers to find their proper targets in the brain, according to a mouse study published in Nature Neuroscience.

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Variants in trust hormone receptor up the risk for autism

by  /  1 February 2010

Genetic variations that tweak the brain’s release of oxytocin — a hormone involved in social bonding and establishing trust — may increase the risk of developing autism or traits of the disorder, according to three new studies published in the past few months.

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