Genes

A slice of a cerebellum.

Mutation in top autism-linked gene may alter eye reflex

The discovery could help clinicians diagnose children who carry mutations in the gene, called SCN2A, and gauge their responses to potential therapies.

By Charles Q. Choi
26 February 2024 | 5 min read
A research image of a mouse hippocampus

Some social issues in DYRK1A model mice stem from faulty inhibitory circuits

Alterations in inhibitory circuits and difficulties in social recognition characterize mice missing one copy of DYRK1A, a gene linked to autism.

By Giorgia Guglielmi
11 October 2023 | 4 min read
Research image of presynapses on sensory neurons in fruit flies.
Spectrum Microphone

UBE3A’s link to synaptic pruning bolstered by fly study

Increasing or reducing the levels of the UBE3A gene, which is associated with autism and autism-related syndromes, results in altered patterns of synaptic pruning — a process that snips away brain cell connections.

By Giorgia Guglielmi
28 September 2023 | 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
Research image of neurons in mice.

Skewed signaling in striatum may spawn repetitive behaviors

Synaptic changes in the brain region could drive a core trait of fragile X syndrome, a new mouse study suggests.

By Holly Barker
6 September 2023 | 3 min read
Photograph of a family of rhesus macaque monkeys.
Spectrum Microphone

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
Position heatmaps of mice performing a behavioral assay.

New test taps nose pokes as a proxy for social motivation in mice

Over one hour, a particularly motivated mouse poked its nose 350 times into a hole in the test chamber in the hopes of meeting a playmate.

By Holly Barker
10 August 2023 | 5 min read
Research image of neurons.

Abundant motor proteins disrupt cries in FOXP2 mice

Knocking down the gene that codes for the proteins normalizes the vocalizations.

By Laura Dattaro, Maaisha Osman
28 July 2023 | 3 min read
Research image of interneurons in the outer layer of a human brain.
Spectrum Microphone

‘Gain-of-function’ mutation spawns autism traits

The mutation increases the activity of an autism-linked protein and leads to social difficulties and other behavioral differences in mice.

By Giorgia Guglielmi
24 July 2023 | 5 min read
A brown mouse looks away from a white mouse in a cage to its left.

‘VIP’ interneurons may drive autism traits in Dravet syndrome

The inhibitory cells misfire and contribute to social difficulties in mice that model the syndrome.

By Lauren Schenkman
19 July 2023 | 6 min read

Explore more from The Transmitter

Brain organoid size matches intensity of social problems in autistic people

Overgrown organoids could point to mechanisms underlying profound autism.

By Holly Barker
18 July 2024 | 5 min read

Persistent protein pairing enables memories to last

The complex of two memory proteins, rather than the individual molecules acting independently, underlie month-long memories in mice, a new study suggests.

By Elissa Welle
17 July 2024 | 5 min read
A digitally distorted image of a file folder against a blue gradient background.

Data access changes to UK Biobank stir unease in neuroscientists

“I feel a little bit in limbo,” says neuroscientist Stephanie Noble, who has paused a study using Biobank data after the repository shifted from a data download to a cloud-only access model.

By Calli McMurray
16 July 2024 | 7 min read