Epigenetics

A diagram of green neurnons

Cocaine, morphine commandeer neurons normally activated by food, water in mice

Confirming a long-held hypothesis, repeated exposure to the drugs alters neurons in the nucleus accumbens, the brain’s reward center, and curbs an animal’s urge for sustenance.

By Lauren Schenkman
8 May 2024 | 5 min read
Research image of organoids in the forebrain.

Head size parts autism into two major subtypes

An imbalance in the number of excitatory neurons in early brain development may account for the difference.

By Charles Q. Choi
12 September 2023 | 4 min read
Photograph of a family of rhesus macaque monkeys.
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Father’s genes may drive sociability in male monkeys

The findings in rhesus macaque monkeys may provide clues to sex differences in the heredity of social behavior in people.

By Charles Q. Choi
18 August 2023 | 3 min read
Illustration of half of a brain on the left and half of a heart on the right
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Change of heart and mind: Autism’s ties to cardiac defects

Children with congenital heart disease have an increased likelihood of autism. Why?

By Lauren Schenkman
21 July 2023 | 12 min read
Composite research image of organoids at several stages of development.
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Genetic background sways effects of autism-linked mutation

Experiments offer clues to why certain mutations are associated with autism in some people and not others.

By Charles Q. Choi
18 May 2023 | 4 min read
Illustration of neurons.
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Chromatin remodeling tied to altered splicing in autism model

Exposing neurons to valproic acid, a well-known environmental risk factor for autism, disrupts their ability to generate different proteins from the same gene.

By Giorgia Guglielmi
7 February 2023 | 5 min read
Research image comparing neurons that lack the ZFP462 gene to wildtype neurons.

Autism-tied gene ZNF462 keeps developing neurons on track

The gene, linked to a little-known condition called Weiss-Kruszka syndrome, prevents embryonic stem cells from deviating from their neuronal destiny.

By Laura Dattaro
1 February 2023 | 4 min read
Pink geometric brain against a blue background.
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Autism brain signature most pronounced in sensory areas

An analysis of 11 cortical regions shows anterior-to-posterior shifts in gene expression linked to autism.

By Niko McCarty
2 November 2022 | 6 min read
Conceptual illustration of two DNA helixes with several overlapping portions showing common and differing genes.
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Genome scan spots common variant differences between autism and ADHD

Common variants in five regions of the genome may determine whether someone has one condition versus the other.

By Charles Q. Choi
12 October 2022 | 5 min read
A brown lab mouse perches on a researcher's hand.

Largest-yet fragile X mutation in mice confirms model’s shortcomings

A 341-repeat mutation from a person with fragile X does not lead to the syndrome’s traits or function the same way in mice, highlighting a need for different animal models.

By Peter Hess
14 September 2022 | 3 min read

Explore more from The Transmitter

Brain organoids overgrowth; DSCAM gene; sleep issues in autism

Here is a roundup of autism-related news and research spotted around the web for the week of 24 June.

By Jill Adams
25 June 2024 | 2 min read
Close-up image of a dead fly with visible growths protruding from its abdomen due to Entomophthora fungus infection.

Mind control in zombie flies: Q&A with Carolyn Elya

A parasitic fungus compels its insect host to behave in strange ways by hijacking secretory neurons and circadian pathways.

By Shaena Montanari
25 June 2024 | 5 min read
Illustration of a canyon landscape with an orange clock face in place of a sun.

How to teach this paper: ‘Behavioral time scale synaptic plasticity underlies CA1 place fields,’ by Bittner and Milstein et al. (2017)

Katie Bittner, Aaron Milstein and their colleagues found that cellular learning can happen over longer timescales than Hebb’s rule predicts. How long should we wait to teach students about this phenomenon?

By Ashley Juavinett
24 June 2024 | 11 min read