Behavior

Understanding the Autistic Mind

Source: 
Medical News Today
Date Published: 
February 1, 2011
Abstract: 

A study from MIT neuroscientists reveals that high-functioning autistic adults appear to have trouble using theory of mind to make moral judgments in certain situations. Specifically, the researchers found that autistic adults were more likely than non-autistic subjects to blame someone for accidentally causing harm to another person. This shows that their judgments rely more on the outcome of the incident than on an understanding of the person's intentions, says Liane Young, an MIT postdoctoral associate and one of the lead authors of the study.

Visual Skills Required for Independence Are Impaired in Children With Autism, Research Finds

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
December 20, 2010
Abstract: 

The ability to find shoes in the bedroom, apples in a supermarket, or a favorite animal at the zoo is impaired among children with autism, according to new research from the University of Bristol. Contrary to previous studies, which show that children with autism often demonstrate outstanding visual search skills, this new research indicates that children with autism are unable to search effectively for objects in real-life situations -- a skill that is essential for achieving independence in adulthood.

Changes in Prefrontal Axons May Disrupt the Network in Autism

Source: 
Journal of Neuroscience, Zikopoulos and Barbas
Date Published: 
December 2010
Year Published: 
2010

A post-mortem investigation measuring features of the different axons traveling beneath the cortical surface. The crux of the study is whether in autism there are changes in axons, "which are the conduit for neural communication." In comparison to control samples, autism brain tissue had fewer large axons connecting regions of the prefrontal cortex to the other areas of cortex.  Added to this connection imbalance is a thinner coat of axon insulation, called myelin. These findings may help explain why individuals with autism do not adequately shift attention, engage in repetitive behavior, and avoid social interactions.

Hormone Oxytocin Improves Social Cognition but Only in Less Socially Proficient Individuals

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
September 21, 2010
Abstract: 

Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine have found that the naturally-occurring hormone oxytocin selectively improves social cognitive abilities for less socially proficient individuals, but has little effect on those who are more socially proficient. While more research is required, these results highlight the potential oxytocin holds for treating social deficits in people with disorders marked by deficits in social functioning like autism.

Study Finds that Cognitive Skills in Children with Autism Vary and Improve

Source: 
Medical News Today
Date Published: 
September 17, 2010
Abstract: 

Although previous research has reported little change over time in theory of mind and executive function skills of children with ASD, this longitudinal study found that most of the children's skills in these areas improved considerably over time: Most of the children had better appreciation of others' thoughts and feelings, and they were better able to plan, regulate, and control their thoughts and actions over the study's three years.

Seaside Therapeutics Reports Positive Data from Phase 2 Study of STX209 in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Source: 
Seaside Therapeutics
Date Published: 
September 9, 2010
Abstract: 

Seaside Therapeutics reported findings on STX209 at the 42nd Autism Society National Conference. STX209 is a selective gamma-amino butyric acid type B (GABA-B) receptor agonist being studied for the treatment of ASD and fragile X syndrome (FXS).

As previously reported, STX209 demonstrated statistically significant improvements across a number of global and specific neurobehavioral outcomes in the open-label Phase 2a study, including significant improvements in social impairment—a core symptom of ASD.

Minocycline Promising in Fragile X Syndrome

Source: 
Medscape Today
Date Published: 
September 7, 2010
Abstract: 

Parents of children with fragile X syndrome report that minocycline led to positive improvements in language, attention levels and behavior. They also report experiencing adverse side effects such as mild gastrointestinal issues and some increased irritability.

Infants Gaze May Be an Early, but Subtle, Marker for Autism Risk

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
September 1, 2010
Abstract: 

Kennedy Krieger Institute have announced new study results showing an early marker for later communication and social delays in infants at a higher-risk for autism may be infrequent gazing at other people when unprompted. The study also found that six-month-old high-risk infants demonstrated the same level of cause and effect learning skills when compared to low-risk infants of the same age.

Language as a Window into Sociability

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
August 13, 2010
Abstract: 

People with Williams syndrome-known for their indiscriminate friendliness and ease with strangers-process spoken language differently from people with autism spectrum disorders-characterized by social withdrawal and isolation-found researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

Researchers Find Predictors of Autism That Can Lead to Infant Diagnosis

Source: 
S.I. Live
Date Published: 
August 5, 2010
Abstract: 

Certain behaviors seen in infants as young as 1-month-old may be predictors of autism spectrum disorders, according to new research by scientists at the Institute for Basic Research and Developmental Disabilities, Willowbrook.

At 1 month, children with the ASD diagnosis were more likely to have asymmetrical visual tracking and arm tone deficits. By 4 months, they were more attracted to higher levels of visual stimulation, much like younger infants. Between 7 and 10 months, the children with ASD showed major declines in mental and motor performance.