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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.

September 2021
Four brains showing areas affected by the X chomosome in yellow

X chromosome exerts extra influence on brain development

by  /  15 September 2021

The X chromosome holds stronger-than-expected genetic sway over the structure of several brain regions. The genes that may underlie this oversized influence have ties to autism.

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Scientist Ethan Scott takes aim with a bow and arrow in his backyard.

Beyond the Bench: A conversation with Ethan Scott

by  /  13 September 2021

Ethan Scott packs his lab with math, physics and computer science experts to decode sensory brain networks in zebrafish models of autism.

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Colorful image of a composite of multiple brain scans showing communication patterns in different regions.

Autism mouse models cluster by brain activity pattern

by  /  10 September 2021

Four subtypes lend new support to the idea that there isn’t a single ‘hallmark’ type of brain connectivity in people with autism.

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researcher holds zebrafinch

Fish, frogs, flies and other fauna in scientific firsts

by  /  8 September 2021

Over the past century, scientists have used a variety of animal models to advance their understanding of the developing brain and autism.

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A lighthearted, colorful, chaotic lab scene with fruit flies, worms peeking out of petri dishes, zebrafish in beakers and an octopus creeping out of a cabinet..

Special report: Unusual animal models of autism

by  /  8 September 2021

In the past two decades, some autism researchers have turned to simple animals, such as roundworms, fruit flies and zebrafish, for their investigations. Others have sought answers from experiments with frogs, birds and even octopuses.

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Colorful illustration shows a esearcher with frogs and frog eggs.

Autism research makes the leap to frogs

by  /  8 September 2021

Frogs are useful for autism research for a slew of reasons, including the fact that the animals’ initial development occurs outside of the mother’s body in plain view.

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A lighthearted, colorful, chaotic lab scene with fruit flies flying in formation, worms peeking out of piles of dirt and zebrafish spilling out of beakers.

What studying worms, flies and fish says about autism

by  /  8 September 2021

Researchers are increasingly turning to simple animals to learn about autism biology and find leads for new drugs.

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Colorful illustration shows a boy talking and a bird singing, with the sounds merging between them.

Tuning into bird songs for clues to autism

by  /  8 September 2021

Parallels between how birds learn to sing and how children learn to speak provide a window into the roots of language difficulties in autism.

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Placental hormone loss spurs autism-like traits in mice

by  /  2 September 2021

Mice exposed to unusually low levels of the placental hormone allopregnanolone in the womb show atypical brain development and autism-like behaviors.

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August 2021
Micrograph showing missing sodium ion channels in cerebral cortex of mice with two mutated copies of SCN2A gene.

Model mice hint at sodium channel gene’s contribution to autism

by  /  27 August 2021

Altered electrical activity in the neurons of mice with a mutated copy of SCN2A may explain the animals’ autism-like social behaviors.

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