Prefrontal cortex

A brain slice under a microscope.

Preprint questions validity of postmortem brain studies

But the alternatives, including living-brain biopsies, raise logistical and ethical questions, experts say.

By Katie Moisse
5 June 2023 | 6 min listen
Brain scans displaying activity in areas linked with social behavior.
Spectrum Microphone

People’s perceptions of ‘social’ animations don’t always square with researchers’ labels

The finding calls into question differences between autistic and non-autistic people on a decades-old theory-of-mind test involving interacting geometric shapes.

By Charles Q. Choi
22 February 2023 | 6 min read
an image of a neuron
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Neurons struggle to spike without fragile X gene

FMR1 loss impairs sodium channels, hindering mouse neurons from generating the electrical signals needed to transmit information.

By Laura Dattaro
17 February 2023 | 3 min read
lllustration of the junction between two nerve cells.
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Multi-omics study captures CNTNAP2’s far-ranging effects

The in-depth approach shows mutations in the autism-linked gene disrupt neuronal growth and communication, as well as mitochondrial gene expression.

By Charles Q. Choi
8 December 2022 | 4 min read
Spectrum Microphone

Autism-linked mutation disrupts brain circuit to change social behavior

Therapies that target the circuit could boost social activity, new findings suggest.

By Charles Q. Choi
24 June 2022 | 4 min read
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Histone-modifying drug improves autism-like behaviors in mice

The experimental compound, called GSK-LSD1, enhances social preferences and reduces repetitive grooming in mice, according to a new study.

By Chloe Williams
18 April 2022 | 4 min read
Illustration shows a cartoon-like simple figure made out of a switchboard, with colorful cables converging on an area deep in the brain.

Brain’s sensory switchboard has complex connections to autism

An atypical thalamus may underlie not only sensory issues in autism but also difficulties with social skills, attention and memory.

By Sarah DeWeerdt
15 November 2021 | 9 min read
Mouse neuron recordings showing different levels of activity before and after an encounter with an unfamiliar mouse.

Neural network captures noisy neurons in autism mouse model

Mice missing the autism-linked gene SHANK3 use more neurons to engage in social behavior than control mice do, reflecting a more disorganized, less efficient brain signaling network.

By Peter Hess
18 June 2021 | 4 min read
Man reaches into cabinet while a woman looks on

Single neurons may power key ‘theory of mind’ skills

A subset of brain cells signal when someone tries to infer another person’s thoughts, according to a new study.

By Angie Voyles Askham
8 February 2021 | 4 min read
Spectrum Microphone

Sensor helps scientists spy on serotonin activity in mice in real time

A glowing protein tracks serotonin levels and location in the brains of living mice and could yield clues to the neurotransmitter’s role in autism.

By Peter Hess
5 February 2021 | 5 min read

Explore more from The Transmitter

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
Portrait of Kaspar Podgorski standing in his lab wearing a helmet with a climbing rope over his shoulder.

Climbing to new heights: Q&A with Kaspar Podgorski

The optical physiologist tracks neural computations inside the lab and scales sheer rock faces outside—even after a life-changing fall.

By Elissa Welle
21 June 2024 | 8 min read
Research illustration groups genes by their effects on brain cell types.

Giant analysis reveals how autism-linked genes affect brain cell types

Genes that predispose people to autism account for a large portion of the neuronal and glial cell changes seen in those with the condition.

By Charles Q. Choi
20 June 2024 | 5 min read