Autism Science

Children with Autism Benefit from Peer Solicitation

Source: 
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
Date Published: 
December 12, 2013
Abstract: 

Peer solicitation – a child inviting another to play – can improve reciprocal social interaction among children with autism, according to a recent Vanderbilt University study. While the children with autism in the study initiated and engaged in less play overall than typically developing children, the researchers found that other children can facilitate and increase interactions by simple requests. These findings highlight the pivotal role that peers have in social interaction, noting that it only takes a single child to prompt other children – with or without autism – to interact.

White Matter in Brain Develops Differently in Children with Autism

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Institute
Date Published: 
December 6, 2013
Abstract: 

A study in Brain Research shows a difference in how auditory nerve fibers develop may explain why children with autism process sounds a fraction of a second more slowly than typically developing children do. It is known that the brain’s response to sound speeds up as children age. This boost in speed is known to be accompanied by the maturation of white matter — the nerve fibers that connect brain regions. It was once believed that in children with autism, the white matter didn't mature with age like it does in typically-developing children. However, it is now believed that it does mature with age in children with autism, just in a different way.

New Diagnostic Tool for Adults with Autism

Date Published: 
December 9, 2013
Abstract: 

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have developed a new screening tool to facilitate the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder in adults. The test is presented in the scientific journal Molecular Autism and is unique in that researchers have, as part of their evaluation, compared the group diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder with psychiatric patients. In adults, distinguishing Autism Spectrum Disorder from other psychiatric conditions can be a problem, as their symptoms often overlap or are similar to those in schizophrenia, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or severe personality disorders.

Gut Microbes Linked to Autismlike Symptoms in Mice

Source: 
Science Magazine
Date Published: 
December 5, 2013
Abstract: 

More information has come about about the gut microbes study in Cell. "I'd want to know more about the mechanism by which the bacteria altered behavior in the mice before beginning to translate the findings to humans" says Emanuel DiCicco-Bloom, a neuroscientist at Rutgers University and member of the ASF Scientific Advisory Board.

Anxiety and Autism May Share Common Basis

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Institute
Date Published: 
December 3, 2013
Abstract: 

Anxiety runs in families with autism, hinting that the two conditions may share a common origin, suggests a twin study published recently in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Compared with controls, the children who had autism or some features of the disorder experienced more of all forms of anxiety, including social anxiety and episodes of panic, according to parent surveys. They scored especially high on generalized and separation anxiety.

Bacterium Can Reverse Autism-Like Behaviour in Mice

Source: 
Cell
Date Published: 
December 5, 2013
Abstract: 

Caltech researchers gave probiotics to mice that had been bred to have autism-like symptoms and found promising results. After being given the probiotics, the mice were more communicative and less anxious. The treatment also reduced gastrointestinal problems in the animals that were similar to those that often accompany autism in humans.

Oxytocin Improves Brain Function in Children with Autism

Source: 
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Date Published: 
December 2, 2013
Abstract: 

A new study conducted by the Yale Child Study Center shows promising results concerning the use of the hormone oxytocin. The study found that oxytocin, given as a nasal spray,enhanced brain activity while processing social information in children with autism spectrum disorders. This means brain centers associated with reward and emotion recognition responded more during social tasks when the children in the study received oxytocin.

Sex Differences in Social Perception in Children with ASD

Source: 
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Date Published: 
December 2, 2013
Abstract: 

Autism spectrum disorder is more common in males than females. An underrepresentation of females in the ASD literature has led to limited knowledge of differences in social function across the sexes. A study on face perception has shown that despite being closely matched for symptoms, IQ, and age, the girls showed more pronounced atypical brain response, which suggests they are indeed employing compensatory strategies to look as good as they do.

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RNA Bits Vary in Social, Auditory Brain Areas in Autism

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Institute
Date Published: 
November 14, 2013
Abstract: 

People with autism show differences from controls in the levels of microRNAs, small noncoding bits of RNA, in the social and sound-processing parts of the brain. MicroRNAs, or miRNAs, bind to messenger RNAs, which code for protein, and flag them for degradation. Each miRNA can interfere with the production of several proteins. Of the more than 5,000 miRNAs and other small noncoding RNAs that the researchers screened, they found 3 miRNAs that are dysregulated in these regions in people with autism compared with controls.

Yale Researchers Find Genetic Links to Autism

Source: 
Cell
Date Published: 
November 21, 2013
Abstract: 

Scientists at Yale have identified which types of brain cells and regions of the brain are affected by genetic mutations linked to autism spectrum disorders. Researchers state that this new discovery has the potential for new types of autism treatments. We may not need to treat the whole brain, they say; only particular areas of the brain may be affected by autism at certain times.