Spotted around the web: SHANK3 protein, microglia, new National Academy of Sciences members

Here is a roundup of news and research for the week of 2 May.

Research roundup

  • The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, 2nd edition, may be biased toward white boys on two measures of repetitive and restricted behaviors, whereas other measures appear to be largely unbiased. JAMA Network Open
  • A serotonin-boosting drug increases social-approach behavior — but not neuronal activity — in the serotonin-rich dorse raphe nucleus in juvenile mice from the BALB/c strain, which tend to be less social than other mouse strains. Journal of Psychopharmacology
  • The SHANK3 protein, implicated in autism, contributes to the strength of neuronal synapses and is modulated by phosphorylation and dephosphorylation at multiple sites. eLife
  • Gastrointestinal problems in autistic children are associated with internalizing mental health issues, such as anxiety and withdrawal. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
  • Researchers can conduct all-optical experiments, in which specific populations of neurons are turned on and off in living, active mice, by combining advanced techniques. Spectrum reported on the possibilities of these methods for studying autism. Nature Protocols
  • Microglia play a role in neurodevelopmental processes, and alterations in their function are linked to autism, according to a new review article. Annual Review of Neuroscience
  • Brain imaging results are difficult to replicate and often don’t yield reliable functional connections, according to a review of studies. Biological Psychiatry
  • Researchers can use induced pluripotent stem cells to explore cellular mechanisms of neuropsychiatric conditions, thereby bridging the gap between genetics and animal models. Schizophrenia Research
  • Signaling pathways in neurons and glia, modeled from single-cell transcriptome data, appear to differ between autistic and non-autistic people. Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Science and society

  • Research institutions and grant-funding agencies should encourage bigger, riskier ideas in science rather than incremental, safe ones, argues a Stony Brook University professor. Undark
  • Julia Bascom, executive director of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, champions autistic people’s rights by demanding that policymakers listen to autistic voices. The 19th
  • Researchers quoted in Spectrum are among the newly elected members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences: Hollis Cline, Scripps Research; Betty Diamond, Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research; and Jay Shendure, University of Washington and Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Spectrum profiled Cline earlier this year. National Academy of Sciences
  • A physician with an autistic sibling writes about how medical care continues to fail at providing equitable care for autistic people. STAT
  • The governor of Missouri has requested $4.2 million dollars to help reduce the wait time for children to be evaluated for autism. Missourinet
  • An autism awareness panel to be hosted by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, has been scuttled by Harvard University students who condemned the program’s use of language such as “treating autism” and “savant autism.” The Harvard Crimson