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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.

November 2021
Illustration shows a cartoon-like simple figure made out of a switchboard, with colorful cables converging on an area deep in the brain.

Brain’s sensory switchboard has complex connections to autism

by  /  15 November 2021

An atypical thalamus may underlie not only sensory issues in autism but also difficulties with social skills, attention and memory.

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Including immune cells in brain organoids improves model’s accuracy

by  /  15 November 2021

Cortical organoids that contain non-neuronal brain cells called microglia may reflect human neurodevelopment more faithfully than those that don’t.

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New studies reveal how autism might alter synapse formation, pruning

by  /  12 November 2021

The work fills in gaps about how synapses change before and after birth — essential knowledge for understanding whether synapse development differs in autism.

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Dispatches from SfN 2021: Mitochondria, Rett therapy and oxytocin

These short reports from Spectrum journalists highlight some of the autism-related findings that caught our attention at the meeting this past week.

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Fragile X theory falters on amygdala test

by  /  10 November 2021

Activating certain receptors in the amygdala — a treatment that runs counter to a leading theory of what causes the condition — can reverse some traits in rats.

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Auto-antibodies shape brain development in myriad ways

by  /  8 November 2021

Animal models of autism rooted in exposure to maternal antibodies hint at different mechanisms.

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Mouse neurons in red and pink on black.

Mouse model reveals root of breathing issues in rare form of autism

by  /  5 November 2021

Dysfunctional circuits and a rogue sodium channel in the brainstem may explain the disordered breathing pattern seen in children with Pitt-Hopkins syndrome, a form of autism.

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Dr. Audrey Brumback in her lab with her hair and lab coat flying out behind her.

Beyond the Bench: A conversation with Audrey Brumback

by  /  3 November 2021

Audrey Brumback riffs about volunteering in Mexico, having a lab next door to her husband’s and why she sometimes cries at work.

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Photo: A scientist wearing a green shirt and white gloves holds two black laboratory mice. The viewer is looking over the scientist's shoulder at their cupped hands holding the mice.

Sex bias emerges in new mouse model with autism-linked mutation

by  /  3 November 2021

Compared with a previous mouse strain, a new model better reflects some of the difficulties that people with a rare autism-related syndrome experience, and may help identify biomarkers of the syndrome.

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October 2021

Deep-learning model may accurately predict autism diagnosis

by  /  28 October 2021

The algorithm estimates a child’s likelihood of having autism from patterns of co-occurring conditions in electronic health records, outperforming a widely used screening test.

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