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Expert opinions on trends and controversies in autism research.

Illustration of large microscope with spotlight on DNA strand representing focus on basic research leaving families in the twilight waiting room.

Autism research continues to stress basic science over improving interventions

by  /  14 September 2021

For 40 years, the preponderance of autism research has focused on understanding the causes and characteristics of the condition rather than testing assessments or interventions in community settings.

Previous articles

September 2021
Steve Warren
Opinion / Viewpoint

Remembering Steve Warren (1953-2021): A giant in the field of genetics

by , , ,  /  6 September 2021

Steve Warren co-discovered the genetic mechanism that underpins fragile X syndrome and was a generous, inspiring mentor to many.

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August 2021
Opinion / Viewpoint

Validating autism subtypes: A crucial but often overlooked step in research

by ,  /  31 August 2021

Studies of autism subtypes rarely validate their results, and this has led to a proliferation of autism subtypes of questionable utility. But reliable subtyping can help improve the prognosis for and care of autistic people.

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Illustration shows a woman thinking as she is surrounded by signs with feelings on them and question marks.
Opinion / Viewpoint

Measuring alexithymia in autistic people

by ,  /  24 August 2021

Despite the growing interest in alexithymia in autism research, the tools commonly used to measure this trait may not work reliably in autistic populations. A new scoring method fills that gap.

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Colorful illustration of child's brain with electrodes connected EEG wave patterns, DNA strand, and playing siblings.
Opinion / Viewpoint

Connecting autism-linked genetic variation to infant social behavior

by ,  /  10 August 2021

Integrating genetic analyses into studies of babies’ brain development could help us understand how autism-related genes contribute to autism traits.

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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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June 2021
Zemi and her son, 2017
Opinion / Viewpoint

Remembering Zemi Yenus: An ambassador for autism in Africa

by , , ,  /  15 June 2021

Zemi Yenus was the mother of a child with autism, founder of Ethiopia’s first school for autistic children and a tireless advocate for autism awareness and research in Africa.

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May 2021
Opinion / Viewpoint

The first Dutch boy with ‘autism’ — and the nun who cared for him

by  /  25 May 2021

The recognition of autism independently at different times and across different cultures shows the condition has clear boundaries, despite considerable heterogeneity.

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April 2021
Female mouse with its litter of pups.
Opinion / Viewpoint

Few autism researchers control for the ‘litter effect’ — this needs to change

by ,  /  27 April 2021

Anyone who uses multiple animals from a small number of litters to increase sample size is making a serious mistake. The similarities within individual litters will heavily skew the results.

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March 2021
Brain made of DNA strands on a background of molecule shapes
Opinion / Viewpoint

There are no autism-specific genes, just brain genes

by ,  /  23 March 2021

There is not yet a single example of a gene that, when mutated, increases the likelihood of autism but not of other neurodevelopmental conditions, including intellectual disability.

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Nasal sprayer makes a brain shape out of its spray.
Opinion / Viewpoint

How to improve oxytocin research for autism

by ,  /  9 March 2021

To guard against hype, scientists studying oxytocin’s role in autism and its potential as a treatment need to embrace robust theories, rigorous delivery methods and reproducible research practices.

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