Spotted around the web: Klinefelter syndrome, REM sleep, mixed-gender research teams

Here is a roundup of news and research for the week of 29 August.

Research roundup  

  • Autism traits track with ‘empathic disequilibrium,’ a measure of two aspects of empathy — recognizing other people’s mental states and responding with appropriate emotions. Autism Research 
  • A group-therapy program called PEERS, adapted for Polish culture, improved autistic adolescents’ social skills and increased how often they got together with friends. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 
  • A CRISPR method to activate transcription of the autism-linked gene ITGB3 restored cortical network excitability in mice that have only one copy of the gene. Molecular Therapy – Nucleic Acids 
  • Only 5 percent of autistic children meet recommended levels of three measures that correlate with quality of life — physical activity, time spent on screens and sleep duration; 23 percent meet two measures, and 45 percent meet only one. Journal of Sport and Health Science 
  • A 1,000-year-old skeleton appears to be a man with an extra X chromosome and is the oldest known case of Klinefelter syndrome, a condition linked to autism. The Lancet
Two images of a skull
Ancient syndrome: A 1,000-year-old skull shows evidence of a rare autism-linked genetic condition.
  • Children and adolescents with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome have altered sleep architecture, including reduced REM sleep, that may reflect neurodevelopmental signatures of conditions such as autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. eLife 
  • Autistic children’s brain activity differs while they interact with videos featuring humanoid robots versus human beings; non-autistic children’s brain activity is similar in the two situations. International Journal of Psychophysiology 
  • Astrocytes from mouse models of neurodevelopmental conditions release proteins that alter neuronal growth and function in cell culture. Nature Neuroscience 
  • Sleep deprivation in mice with heterozygous SHANK3 gene mutations caused autism-like traits not seen in mice that didn’t have sleep disruption. Molecular Autism 
  • Older paternal age is associated with a number of psychiatric conditions in children, including autism, ADHD and schizophrenia, according to a records review of 7 million people born in Taiwan across 38 years. Molecular Psychiatry 

Science and society 

  • Starting in 2026, all published research funded by the U.S. government must be immediately available open access, according to a new White House policy. 
  • The coronavirus pandemic spurred new systems that allowed researchers access to pregnant people’s health data, which now can be used to explore other pregnancy-related research questions. STAT 
  • Two autistic researchers talk about combining their expertise with their lived experience to improve autism research. Science Friday 
  • Research teams that include both men and women are more likely to publish novel and highly cited papers than are single-gender teams, according to a study of 6.6 million papers over 19 years. PNAS 
  • Adjectives that hype research aims in grant applications, such as ‘novel,’ ‘exciting’ and ‘critical,’ have increased by more than 1,000 percent, according to a 35-year analysis of projects funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. STAT 
  • A group of autism researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has created tool kits to help autistic children living in Ukraine during war. Spectrum reported on global efforts to help autistic Ukrainians earlier this year. The Daily Tar Heel 
  • Understanding, compassion and adaptations are key elements of achieving equity for autistic people in academia, writes autistic psychologist Eloise Stark. Nature Human Behaviour