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The Brain

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

May 2021
Woman talks to child in EEG cap
News

Brain’s response to faces foretells social development in autistic people

by  /  6 May 2021

A delayed brain response to viewing faces may predict lags in social-skill development in autistic people.

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brainstem of rats in red, green and blue highlight higher levels of GABA.
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GABA agonist rescues auditory hypersensitivity in rats missing autism-linked gene CNTNAP2

by  /  3 May 2021

The investigational drug arbaclofen may right an imbalance between inhibitory and excitatory signaling in the animals’ brains.

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News

Anxiety specific to autism linked to amygdala differences

by  /  3 May 2021

People who experience an autism-specific form of anxiety also tend to have an unusually small amygdala, a brain region associated with emotion processing and fear, according to a new unpublished study.

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April 2021
Brain scan showing communication from amygdala to hypothalamus about social reward.
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Brain circuit makes social interactions rewarding, may be altered in autism

by  /  30 April 2021

Blocking connections between the amygdala and hypothalamus prevents mice from finding social interactions as rewarding as they would otherwise.

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Two views of mouse brain slices colorized in green and red.
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Jump-starting growth signaling reverses microcephaly in autism mouse model

by  /  29 April 2021

A genetic therapy and an existing drug both restore typical brain size in mice missing DYRK1A, a top autism candidate gene, in the cerebral cortex, a new study shows. The animals typically have smaller brains than controls.

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Colorful RNA in mouse brain slice
News / Toolbox

Tissue-swelling method divulges RNA locations, sequences in cells

by  /  28 April 2021

A technique that expands tissue before spotting and sequencing RNA — the molecular messenger for DNA — enables researchers to see where particular genes are expressed in cells.

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News

Loss of CHD8 from cerebellum disrupts movements, not social behaviors

by  /  26 April 2021

Deleting the autism-linked gene CHD8 from specific cells in the cerebellum, a brain region important for movement, leads to motor deficits but does not alter social behaviors in mice.

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Brains scans reveal sharper boundaries between white and gray matter in autistic people.
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Thin insulation may explain atypical cortical thickness seen in autism

by  /  23 April 2021

Differences in myelin, the insulation that surrounds neuronal projections, may shade measurements of cortical thickness on brain scans, a new study suggests.

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Mouse brains carrying CUL3 gene mutation reveal unusually thin cortical tissue.
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Neuron ‘skeleton’ may explain impact of autism-linked gene mutation

by  /  16 April 2021

Mutations in CUL3, a gene strongly linked to autism, may cause differences in brain structure by disrupting cytoskeleton proteins, according to a new study.

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Baby in utero surrounded by pills, on bright blue background
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The link between vitamins, supplements and autism, explained

by  /  14 April 2021

Too little — or too much — of certain substances during pregnancy may increase the odds of having a child with autism. Here we explain what scientists know about these associations.

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