Double-empathy problem; dup15q syndrome; myelin loss in aging autistic adults

Here is a roundup of autism-related news and research spotted around the web for the week of 17 June.

  • The double-empathy problem—used to explain communication difficulties between autistic and non-autistic people—is not evidence-based, due to flaws in research design and interpretation, three psychologists argue. The Conversation
  • Gene expression and chromatin accessibility are altered in a cell-type-specific way in people with the autism-linked condition dup15q syndrome, according to a preprint. bioRxiv
  • Sex-based differences in gene transcription may explain sex biases in the prevalence of neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric conditions. Biology of Sex Differences
  • Mice with functional loss of the autism-linked gene MEF2C, which plays a key role in the development of GABA-containing interneurons, show altered cortical activity and autism-like behaviors. Biological Psychiatry
  • A machine-learning approach to assess brain structural patterns associated with copy number variants of the 16p11.2 chromosomal region may aid characterization of gene-behavior relationships. Science Advances
Research image of white-matter density in brains of people with deletions or duplications in the 16p11.2 chromosomal region.
Structural changes: People with deletions (left) or duplications (right) in the 16p11.2 chromosomal region show increased or decreased white-matter density, respectively, compared with controls (center). Red indicates a relative increase in density; blue indicates a decrease.
  • Transcription regulators encoded by five autism-linked genes often target the same or overlapping binding sites on chromatin. Cell Reports
  • Loss of myelination in older adults with autism shows a lot of variability, likely reflecting diverse life histories. Brain and Behavior