Spotted around the web: Glia lineages; histone modifications; newborn sequencing

Here is a roundup of news and research for the week of 19 December.

Research roundup

  • The rate of new autism diagnoses has remained unchanged during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Danish health registry study. JAMA Psychiatry
  • A computational analysis of transcriptomes from postmortem brains reveals the lineages of glial cells during fetal development. Nature Communications
  • Parents report that some autistic children — particularly those who are withdrawn or are from families of low socioeconomic status — exceeded recommended screen-time limits during pandemic lockdowns. Frontiers in Psychiatry
  • Lutein, a carotenoid, delivered via nanoparticles, reverses social problems and introduces brain changes in a rat model of autism, implicating oxidative stress. NeuroToxicology
  • In a sensory learning task, autistic people appear to recruit different brain areas than do non-autistic people, consistent with the concept of a bottom-up flow of perceived information. NeuroImage: Clinical
  • A variant of the autism-linked KALRN gene reduces the expression of NMDA receptors and the formation of dendritic spines and arbors in neurons. Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience
Research figure displaying varying dendritic branching levels.
Connectivity tree: Dendritic branching levels vary across control (left), KALRN-boosted (center) and KALRN-variant-containing (right) neurons.
  • Suppressing the autism-linked gene CHD8, which regulates histone modifications, leads to altered histones and differential RNA splicing. Nucleic Acids Research
  • A telehealth-based parent-training intervention improved parents’ skills and knowledge in interacting with their autistic children, and it may be helpful in rural settings where access to services is low. Behavior Analysis in Practice

Science and society

  • A large research project in the United Kingdom and another in New York City each plan to sequence the genomes of 100,000 newborn babies for gene variants associated with known, and often rare, conditions — including several autism-related syndromes. Science
  • Most entries in a biennial protein-folding prediction competition are using the artificial intelligence technology AlphaFold to some degree; its maker, U.K.-based DeepMind, won the contest in 2020 and made its underlying code public last year. Nature
  • Antisense oligonucleotides offer great promise for treating neurological conditions such as epilepsy, despite reports of severe outcomes in two children, one of whom died. Neurology Today
  • Parents participating in an ongoing intervention designed to alleviate anxiety in their autistic children say they benefit from sharing their experiences with other parents. ABC News
  • A recent workshop covered the benefits of critiquing preprints — quick feedback to study authors, broad discussion of results and help for journals that publish peer-reviewed papers — and barriers to wider adoption by the scientific community. Science