Spotted around the web: Sex differences in microglia, Google searches, Kavli Prize

Here is a roundup of news and research for the week of 30 May.

Research roundup

  • A huge number of studies show that applied behavior analysis, a mainstay of autism therapy, improves outcomes, and yet most lack comparison interventions or follow-up measures. Perspectives on Behavior Science
  • Phosphorylation of a particular region of the protein PTEN is necessary for cortical development and sensory processing, and may explain how PTEN mutations contribute to autism traits. Brain
  • Of 41 drugs and 17 dietary supplements tested in children in clinical trials, only 4 drugs appear to improve a core autism trait, according to a review; dietary supplements were largely ineffective. Molecular Autism
  • Sex differences in microglia, the brain’s immune cells, may explain sex biases in brain conditions such as autism and depression. Spectrum covered microglia’s role in autism’s sex bias in 2018. Knowable
  • Google searches for autism increase in April, Autism Acceptance Month. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
A line graph displaying a repeating pattern of Google searches for the term "autism" rising every April
Information inquiry: The term ‘autism’ becomes search-worthy every April.
  • Collecting 3D body-position data of moving lab animals makes it possible to correct for movement-influenced neuronal activity computationally. Neuron
  • White-matter alterations in autism, such as the density of fibers connecting brain hemispheres, are greater in autistic people with intellectual disability than in those without. Molecular Autism
  • A review of studies reports a strong link between autism and gender diversity. Spectrum explored the link between gender identity and autism in 2020. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
  • One trigger for microencephaly and cognitive impairment is the dysfunction of an intracellular enzyme that cleaves tyrosine from microtubules. Science

Science and society

  • A day program center in Mariupol, Ukraine, has become a refuge for people with autism or Down syndrome. Spectrum covered the many challenges that autistic people in Ukraine face as daily routines are upended by war. The Wall Street Journal
  • Neurodiverse representation in government is important for implementing policies and legislation that may affect autistic people’s lives in society, writes an autistic woman in Australia. The Guardian
  • The 2022 Kavli Prize in Neuroscience has been awarded to Jean-Louis Mandel, Harry Orr, Christopher Walsh and Huda Zoghbi for their work elucidating the genetic underpinnings of neurodevelopmental conditions such as fragile X and Rett syndromes. Spectrum profiled Zoghbi this past year and Walsh in 2008.
  • The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated workloads and institutional problems and has led many mid-career academic scientists to leave their positions. Nature