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The Brain

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

January 2021
organoids in early stages of development.
News

Organoids show how mutations in top autism gene may lead to brain overgrowth in people

by  /  11 January 2021

The loss of CHD8, a top autism gene, speeds up the production of certain neurons and leads to overgrowth in spheres of cultured brain cells.

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Colorful CT scan of a zebrafish head.
News

Zebrafish strains reveal broad effects of autism genes

by  /  11 January 2021

Mutations in autism-linked genes lead to a variety of changes in brain activity, sensory perception and sleep-wake cycles in zebrafish.

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computational neural network in red and blue lines.
News

Computational technique recapitulates neuron shapes

by  /  11 January 2021

A new method automatically reconstructs the 3D branching shapes of neurons from images.

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Heat map of mouse activity.
News

Circuit linking prefrontal cortex and brain’s relay station regulates social behavior in mice

by  /  11 January 2021

A set of neurons connecting the prefrontal cortex and the thalamus helps regulate social interactions in mice.

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lab mice
News

Mice with autism-related mutations show brain signaling imbalance

by  /  4 January 2021

Mutations in POGZ, a gene strongly linked to autism, lead to a signaling imbalance in multiple brain regions in mice, according to two new studies.

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December 2020
researcher facing off with the coronavirus.
Features / Special Reports / Hindsight is 2020: The year in review

Rewind: Spectrum’s best from 2020

23 December 2020

Our staff picks the stories, podcasts and special reports that stood out from the rest this past year.

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Micrograph of nerve cells being targeted by CRISPR enzyme to activate the silenced gene in Angelman syndrome
Features / Special Reports / Hindsight is 2020: The year in review

Hot topics in autism research, 2020

23 December 2020

The Spectrum team highlights five topics that distinguished autism research in 2020: diversity in data, gene therapies, subtyping, social circuitry and the ‘autism gene’ debate.

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Protein in brain
News

Drug helps mice with autism-linked mutation recognize others

by  /  21 December 2020

Mice that model 22q11.2 deletion syndrome lack social memory, but that trait can be reversed using a drug that targets the flow of potassium ions in neurons.

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Oxytocin neurons stained pink and green.
News

Autism-linked gene exerts varied effects on oxytocin circuits in mice

by  /  18 December 2020

Two types of neurons process social information, a new mouse study suggests, but only one is disrupted in mice missing the autism-linked gene FMR1.

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Brain organoid with multiple stains; red and green, to indicate cells.
News / Toolbox

New method probes genes’ function in brain organoids

by  /  16 December 2020

A screening technique tests how inactivated genes affect spheres of cultured brain cells; it could shed light on autism-linked mutations.

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