Spotted around the web: Neuroscience 2022; brain condensates; university strikes

Here is a roundup of news and research for the weeks of 14 and 21 November.

Neuroscience 2022 roundup

  • Neurons grown from the stem cells of people with fragile X syndrome have atypical patterns of gene translation and slow growth, according to a poster presented on 12 November.
  • Mice that carry a mutation in a copy of the autism-linked gene ARID1B have few fast-spiking interneurons and decreased synaptic function of the ones that exist, which may contribute to an imbalance of excitation and inhibition in the animals’ brains, according to a poster presented 14 November.
  • Populations of neurons in visual area V4 and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex encode social information relevant to tasks that require cooperation, according to a study in freely moving monkeys that was presented on 14 November.
  • Human brain cells implanted in the brains of mice can be used to test a treatment that unsilences UBE3A, the gene involved in Angelman syndrome, according to a poster presented on 16 November. Spectrum has reported on efforts to unsilence UBE3A over the years, and some of these techniques have gone on to clinical trials.
  • The 2022 Ralph W. Gerard Prize in Neuroscience goes to Richard Huganir of Johns Hopkins University, for his work on synaptic plasticity. Society for Neuroscience
  • Georgia Panagiotakos is moving from the University of California, San Francisco, to the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. Spectrum featured a Q&A with the autism researcher last year. Twitter

Research roundup

  • Many cell functions, including gene transcription and neurotransmitter packaging, occur in short-lived droplets called condensates. Spectrum reported last year on how condensates may contribute to autism. Nature
  • Activity in different brain areas during the act of making eye contact differs between autistic and non-autistic people. PLOS ONE
Scans analyzing brain activity during eye contact.
Social vision: Non-autistic (left) and autistic (right) people have different brain activity during eye contact.
  • Autistic children display altered network-level brain activity, as measured by low-frequency fluctuations during resting-state functional MRI. Autism Research
  • Sleep research in autistic people over the past 20 years has focused on prevalence, treatments, links to autism traits and effects on caregivers, an analysis shows. Sleep and Development
  • Single-cell-level profiles of gene expression and chromatin accessibility from gestation to adulthood paint a picture of the regulatory framework of the prefrontal cortex — and how neurological conditions alter these processes. Cell
  • Functional connectivity differences between autistic and non-autistic people are more accurate and precise when measured in the slow-5 frequency band rather than the conventional one. Human Brain Mapping
  • Antisense oligonucleotides can boost SHANK3 protein levels in cultured stem cells from people with Phelan-McDermid syndrome. Nucleic Acid Therapeutics
  • The FMR1 gene, silenced in fragile X syndrome, appears to contribute to early development of motor circuits in zebrafish brains. Frontiers in Neuroscience

Science and society

  • Jonathan Kipnis, director of the Center for Brain Immunology and Glia at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, discusses his work on the brain’s borders and interactions between the nervous and immune systems. Neuron
  • Newly minted Ph.D. scientists in the United States are increasingly choosing career paths outside of academia — a trend that has been developing for years. Last year, Spectrum reported on how pandemic pressures have affected early-career autism researchers. STAT
  • University faculty and staff in the United Kingdom are planning to strike this week and next to protest low pay increases and pension cuts. The Scientist
  • Tens of thousands of academic workers in the University of California system have gone on strike, the largest ever in U.S. higher education. The Washington Post
  • The European Union has granted orphan drug status to a transdermal therapy for 22q11.2 deletion syndrome — Zygel, made by Zynerba Pharmaceuticals. Spectrum has previously reported on Zynerba products to treat autism and fragile X syndrome. Yahoo Finance
  • About half of American adults with disabilities do not have a long-term-care plan to help with decision-making when family members are no longer around to help. NPR
  • Two married couples with academic ambitions describe how they tried to coordinate new jobs in the same place. Nature