Molecular and Cellular Origins of Sex-Specific Social Motivation Deficits in Autism

More and more evidence is pointing to sex-related differences in gene expression as a potential explanation of the male sex bias in autism diagnosis. This study will examine the role of a gene called MYT1L that has been linked to autism. Mouse models will examine the expression of this gene in the cortex (where there is no evidence of a sex difference in expression of MYT1L) and compare it to expression in the hypothalamus (where there are sex-specific differences linked to social behaviors). The fellow will also examine social learning in males and females and count neurons to look for both behavioral and cellular changes. This will determine where in the brain sex-differential effects in social behavior originate, providing evidence for more targeted intervention strategies in males and females with autism.


Simona Sarafinovka

Joseph Dougherty