Social Skills

Gene Linked to Severity of Autism's Social Dysfunction Identified

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

With the help of two sets of brothers with autism, Johns Hopkins scientists have identified a gene associated with autism that appears to be linked very specifically to the severity of social interaction deficits. The gene, GRIP1 (glutamate receptor interacting protein 1), is a blueprint for a traffic-directing protein at synapses -- those specialized contact points between brain cells across which chemical signals flow.

A Systematic Review of Secretin for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Source: 
Pediatrics
Date Published: 
April 2011
Year Published: 
2011

Krishnaswami et al. Researchers at Vanderbilt University found that secretin, a medical treatment for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) that was popularized in the 1990s, is ineffective in the treatment of ASDs. Evidence from seven randomized controlled trials suggests that secretin does not effectively treat the symptoms of ASDs, which include language and communication impairment, symptom severity, and cognitive and social deficits. Furthermore, no study conducted has found significant improvement in terms of language, cognition, or autistic symptoms when compared with placebo. The Vanderbilt researchers conclude that secretin does not have clear benefit. Additionally, since there is significant evidence of lack of impact in treating ASDs, they believe that further secretin studies should not be conducted.

Misreading Faces Tied to Child Social Anxiety

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

Children suffering from extreme social anxiety are trapped in a nightmare of misinterpreted facial expressions: They confuse angry faces with sad ones, a new study shows.

Catching Autism Symptoms Early to Enable Effective Preventative Interventions Through Play

Source: 
Medical News Today
Date Published: 
March 23, 2011
Abstract: 

Toddlers who played with a limited number of toys showed more improvement in their communication skills following parent-guided treatment than those receiving other community-based treatments.

Virtual Conversation Simulator Found Beneficial for Adults with Autism

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
March 20, 2011
Abstract: 

Simulated interactions in which adults with autism converse with a virtual partner may help them develop better social interaction skills, according to a novel study presented in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.

Interactive Game Helps Autistic Children Recognize Emotions

Source: 
Medical News Today
Date Published: 
March 3, 2011
Abstract: 

Children with autism spectrum disorders are better able to recognize faces, facial expressions and emotions with the help of an interactive computer program called FaceSay, according to newly published research from psychologists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Shank3 Mutant Mice Display Autistic-like Behaviors and Striatal Dysfunction

Source: 
Nature, Peça et al.
Date Published: 
March 2011
Year Published: 
2011

Currently, the neurological basis of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) is poorly understood. “Shank3 is a postsynaptic protein, whose disruption at the genetic level is thought to be responsible for the development of 22q13 deletion syndrome (Phelan-McDermid syndrome) and other non-syndromic ASDs”. In this study, mice with the Shank3 deletion were seen to exhibit “self-injurious repetitive grooming and deficits in social interaction.” Cellular, electrophysiological, and biochemical analyses revealed defects at striatal synapses and cortico-striatal circuits in Shank3 mutant mice. The study’s findings demonstrate that Shank3 plays a critical role in the development of neuronal connectivity. The study also established a causality between a disruption in the Shank3 gene and the beginning of autistic-like behaviors in mice.

Serotonin Plays Role in Many Autism Cases, Studies Confirm

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
February 24, 2011
Abstract: 

Georgianna Gould, Ph.D., research assistant professor of physiology in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, is eyeing the role that serotonin plays in autism spectrum disorders. Serotonin is known for giving a sense of well-being and happiness. It is a neurotransmitter, a chemical that acts like a radio tower in the brain conveying signals among cells called neurons. Thirty percent of autism cases may have a serotonin component. In a recent paper in the Journal of Neurochemistry, Dr. Gould and colleagues showed that a medication called buspirone improved the social behaviors of mice. Buspirone is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in adults as an anti-anxiety and antidepressant adjuvant medication.

Virtual Desktop Program Helps Connect The Autism Spectrum

Source: 
Medical News Today
Date Published: 
February 13, 2011
Abstract: 

Touchstone Behavioral Health, a Phoenix-based treatment center that specializes in working with children has developed a virtual program that gives patients remote access to specialized autism treatment tools and allows therapists and patients to continue developing real-world life skills outside of traditional clinical environments.

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.