Spotted around the web: Polygenic risk scores, joint attention, worldwide prevalence

Here is a roundup of news and research for the week of 23 May.

By Jill Adams
27 May 2022 | 3 min read

Research roundup

  • Autistic people tend to score lower, on average, on social cognition assessments than do non-autistic people; however, nearly half of autistic people exhibit social cognition within the so-called ‘normal range.’ Autism Research
  • The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted autism services and compounded existing bottlenecks in diagnosis and care, according to a survey of clinical specialists. Frontiers in Psychiatry
  • People with autism and those with the broad autism phenotype tend to fix their gaze on non-social rather than social targets, but the groups diverge on visual attention patterns over time. Molecular Autism
  • Polygenic risk scores could be made more clinically useful by placing them in a race- and ethnicity-based context and reporting the information to physicians and patients as “high” or “average” risk. Nature Medicine
  • Left-right asymmetry of cortical surface area in the brain may be linked to social function, empathy and emotion recognition in people with difficulty in these areas. Spectrum has covered the so-called alexithymia hypothesis, which categorizes this set of traits as a subtype of autism. Cerebral Cortex
  • Intranasal oxytocin is ineffective at mitigating anxiety, repetitive behaviors or social functioning in autism, according to a review of 10 clinical trials. CNS & Neurological Disorders – Drug Targets
  • Joint attention can happen without looking at someone’s face or explicitly pointing at an object, and it occurs naturally when young children with or without autism play with a parent. Current Biology
  • Even though parents and educators may rate autistic children’s adaptive functioning differently, both views can help with needs assessments. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
  • Most NLGN gene variants associated with autism change the extracellular portion of the transmembrane protein that is typically involved in synaptic function. Neuronal Signaling
  • Women who have autism traits but have never been diagnosed with autism tend to have better social functioning, and are more likely to be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, than women diagnosed with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
  • Human brain organoids, which are used to study autism and other neurodevelopmental conditions, may be better at modeling the developing brain than the mature brain. Signal Transduction and Targeted Therapy

Science and society

  • Two U.S. senators have introduced a bipartisan bill to provide skills training for caregivers of people with autism.
  • The food that laboratory animals eat can influence experimental results. Nature
  • About 100 in 10,000 children worldwide are diagnosed with autism, up from 62 in 10,000 a decade ago. Spectrum tracks published studies of autism prevalence on an interactive map. Disability Scoop