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The Brain

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

July 2021
Illustration shows mouse with colorful wires attached, interacting with another mouse.
Opinion / Viewpoint

How to avoid common pitfalls when parsing circuit control of social behavior

by  /  20 July 2021

When probing the circuits underlying social behavior in animal models of autism, researchers should consider potentially confounding variables, use multiple behavioral assays and report results in a descriptive and unbiased manner.

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Micrographs comparing motor cortex neurons in mice with and without an extra copy of MECP2 gene.
News

Blocking key pathway reverses brain, behavior changes in autism mouse model

by  /  19 July 2021

Neurons in mice with an autism-linked mutation sprout extraneous protrusions, an overgrowth accompanied by above-average motor learning. Inhibiting a cell signaling pathway reverses the effect.

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Four brown lab mice in a cage, top-down view, with one mouse away from the group.
News

Autism-linked mutation may blur brain’s boundary between self, others

by  /  15 July 2021

A mutation in the autism-linked gene SHANK3 changes how neurons encode information about social agency in mice.

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News / Toolbox

New optogenetics technique minimizes thermal damage to neurons

by  /  8 July 2021

Thanks to a new engineered protein for optogenetics experiments, researchers can stimulate neurons with less light than usual and avoid damaging brain tissue.

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Micrograph showing fewer neurons in fetal mice whose mothers have only one functional copy of PTEN.
News

Maternal genetics may contribute to autism-like traits in mice via inflammation

by  /  2 July 2021

A mouse model hints that genes linked to inflammation in some women may increase the likelihood of autism in their children.

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June 2021
Dr. Huda Zoghbi portrait
News / Profiles

Huda Zoghbi: Taking genetic inquiry to the next level

by  /  25 June 2021

Over the course of a career spanning more than three decades, Huda Zoghbi has won almost every major biology and neuroscience research award that exists. More than 20 years since she discovered the gene behind Rett syndrome, she remains laser focused on unlocking the condition’s secrets and finding effective treatments.

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Mouse brain cells seen in red
News

Autism-linked mutation may disrupt brain cell migration

by  /  23 June 2021

Mutations in CUL3, a leading autism gene, may disrupt the movements of neurons during development; correcting this misdirection could lead to an autism therapy.

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Micrographs of mouse astrocytes with high levels of inflammatory molecules.
News

Immune-regulating cells contribute to autism-like traits in mice

by  /  21 June 2021

The link between autism and prenatal exposure to an immune response may involve altered levels of immune cells, according to a new study.

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Mouse neuron recordings showing different levels of activity before and after an encounter with an unfamiliar mouse.
News

Neural network captures noisy neurons in autism mouse model

by  /  18 June 2021

Mice missing the autism-linked gene SHANK3 use more neurons to engage in social behavior than control mice do, reflecting a more disorganized, less efficient brain signaling network.

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wireless optogenetic device glowing green on mouse brain.
News / Toolbox

Wireless optogenetic devices sync neurons among mice

by  /  17 June 2021

Researchers say they can synchronize two new devices and control neurons across 256 freely moving animals at once to study social behaviors.

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