Brain Development

Boys With Autism May Grow Faster as Babies

Source: 
US News HealthDay
Date Published: 
October 7, 2011
Abstract: 

Boys with autism tend to grow faster as babies, with differences from typically developing infants seen in their head size, height and weight, a new study says. Researchers said the findings may offer new clues about the underlying mechanisms of autism. A larger head size probably means the children also have a larger brain.

Evidence found for the genetic basis of autism: Models of autism show that gene copy number controls

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
October 5, 2011
Abstract: 

Scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have discovered that one of the most common genetic alterations in autism -- deletion of a 27-gene cluster on chromosome 16 -- causes autism-like features. By generating mouse models of autism using a technique known as chromosome engineering, CSHL Professor Alea Mills and colleagues provide the first functional evidence that inheriting fewer copies of these genes leads to features resembling those used to diagnose children with autism.

Infants Given A Social Jump Start By Early Motor Experiences: Study Indicates Infants At Risk For Autism Could Benefit From Motor Training

Source: 
Medical News Today
Date Published: 
September 12, 2011
Abstract: 

In a new study published in the journal Developmental Science (Epub ahead of print), researchers from the Kennedy Krieger Institute and Vanderbilt University found that early motor experiences can shape infants' preferences for objects and faces. The study findings demonstrate that providing infants with "sticky mittens" to manipulate toys increases their subsequent interest in faces, suggesting advanced social development.

This study supports a growing body of evidence that early motor development and self-produced motor experiences contribute to infants' understanding of the social world around them. Conversely, this implies that when motor skills are delayed or impaired - as in autism - future social interactions and development could be negatively impacted.

Early motor experiences can shape infants' preferences for objects and faces

Source: 
News Medical
Date Published: 
September 9, 2011
Abstract: 

In a new study published today in the journal Developmental Science, researchers from the Kennedy Krieger Institute and Vanderbilt University found that early motor experiences can shape infants' preferences for objects and faces. The study findings demonstrate that providing infants with "sticky mittens" to manipulate toys increases their subsequent interest in faces, suggesting advanced social development.

This study supports a growing body of evidence that early motor development and self-produced motor experiences contribute to infants' understanding of the social world around them. Conversely, this implies that when motor skills are delayed or impaired - as in autism - future social interactions and development could be negatively impacted.

US researchers' discovery promises answers on autism

Source: 
The Australian
Date Published: 
September 8, 2011
Abstract: 

Researchers have for the first time identified two biologically different strains of autism in a major breakthrough being compared with the discovery of different forms of cancer in the 1960s. The findings, to be announced at an international autism conference in Perth today, are seen as a key step towards understanding the causes of autism and developing effective treatments as well as a cure. The findings bring hope that the communication, socialization and other difficulties that autistic children experience can be tackled more easily and earlier.

Multivariate Searchlight Classification of Structural Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Children and Adolescents with Autism

Source: 
Biological Psychiatry
Date Published: 
September 5, 2011
Abstract: 

Multiple brain regions, including those belonging to the default mode network, exhibit aberrant structural organization in children with autism. Brain-based biomarkers derived from structural magnetic resonance imaging data may contribute to identification of the neuroanatomical basis of symptom heterogeneity and to the development of targeted early interventions.

Distinct features of autistic brain revealed in novel Stanford/Packard analysis of MRI scans

Source: 
Stanford University
Date Published: 
September 2, 2011
Abstract: 

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital have used a novel method for analyzing brain-scan data to distinguish children with autism from typically developing children. Their discovery reveals that the gray matter in a network of brain regions known to affect social communication and self-related thoughts has a distinct organization in people with autism.

Autism-Related Study Discovers How Drug Interferes with Neuronal Cell Function

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
July 7, 2011
Abstract: 

This study examined mouse neuronal cells during pregnancy to discover how the drug actually interferes at a molecular level with prostaglandins, which are important for development and communication of cells in the brain.

Brain Enlargement in Autism due to Brain Changes Occurring Before Age 2

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
May 3, 2011
Abstract: 

In 2005, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that 2-year-old children with autism have brains up to 10 percent larger than children of the same age without autism. A follow-up study by UNC researchers has found that the children who had enlarged brains at age 2 continued to have enlarged brains at ages 4 and 5, but the amount of the enlargement was to the same degree found at age 2. This increased brain growth did not continue beyond 2 years of age and the changes detected at age 2 were due to overgrowth prior to that time point. In addition, the study found that the cortical enlargement was associated with increased folding on the surface of the brain (or increased surface area) and not an increase in the thickness of outer layer of the brain (or gray matter).

Atypical Neural Networks for Social Orienting in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Source: 
Neuroimage, Greene et al.
Date Published: 
May 2011
Year Published: 
2011

Researchers at UCLA used fMRI to examine the neural mechanisms involved in social interactions in autism spectrum disorders in order to provide insight into the social attention impairments that characterize the disorder. Researchers examined children and adolescents with ASD with social and nonsocial cues. Data revealed that in typically developing individuals, there was greater responsiveness for social cues than nonsocial cues, compared to ASD. The researchers concluded that this difference indicated that the autistic brain does not assign the same privileged status to social cues as assigned in the typically developing brain.