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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.

February 2022

Amygdala development diverges in autism-specific anxiety

by  /  24 February 2022

The brain region, which is involved in fear and emotion processing, develops differently in autistic children with anxiety than in those without anxiety or in non-autistic children; its development also depends on the type of anxiety a child experiences.

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Cerebellum size shows tenuous genetic link to autism

by  /  21 February 2022

Some genomic areas that help determine cerebellar size are associated with autism, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, according to a new study. But heritable variants across the genome that also influence cerebellar size are not.

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Micrograph of neurons with excess neurons due to excess MECP2 expression.

Protein complex points to new route to Rett syndrome

by  /  18 February 2022

Mutations in a newly identified protein complex that interacts with the Rett protein also lead to a Rett-like condition in mice, researchers say.

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Gut molecule linked to decreased myelination in mouse brains

by  /  14 February 2022

Targeting the molecule, 4EPS, with an experimental drug may be a way to ease anxiety for autistic people, the researchers say. But not everyone is convinced.

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Conceptual illustration of female brain versus male brain.

Searching for the biology behind autism’s sex bias

by  /  11 February 2022

The fact that autism seems to affect more boys than girls is often attributed to diagnostic gaps, but the skew remains largely unexplained. Some scientists are turning to basic biology for answers.

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Probe captures neuronal conversations in people

by  /  9 February 2022

A modified version of a probe commonly used in animals detected neuronal activity across different cortical layers in three people undergoing brain surgery.

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Software automatically measures mouse's gait and posture by tracking various points on the mouse's body.

Algorithm spots subtle gait changes in autism mouse models

by  /  4 February 2022

By automatically quantifying gait and posture in videos of mice, a new machine-learning tool could accelerate research on how autism-linked mutations or drug treatments affect motor skills.

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Three autism-linked genes converge on tweaks to cells’ timing

by  /  2 February 2022

Mutations in all three accelerate the maturation of inhibitory neurons, which could upset the brain’s balance of excitation and inhibition early in development.

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Dr. Hollis Cline at her desk.

Hollis Cline: Leapfrogging over gaps in autism research

by  /  1 February 2022

A basic scientist at heart, Hollis Cline has spent decades pushing the boundaries of what researchers can see in the brain. Her persistence has led to a deeper understanding of how some autism-linked genes influence brain development.

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January 2022
Micrograph showing distinct RNA species found in CA1 hippocampal neuronal cell bodies (yellow) and dendrites (red) undergoing compartmentalized RNA regulation.

Location prompts fragile X protein to flip its function

by  /  31 January 2022

The protein, FMRP, shapes cell signaling near synapses but switches to regulate genes in the cell body, according to new research.

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