spectrum / spotted

Tau protein in fragile X syndrome; SYNGAP1’s role in development; SHANK expression in mice and men

Here is a roundup of news and research spotted around the web for the week of 13 November.

By Jill Adams
14 Nov 2023 | 2 min read
  • Functional brain imaging may serve to build bridges across neuroscience specialties such as systems, cognitive and clinical neuroscience, three researchers argue. Nature
  • Mice missing the FMR1 gene, a model of fragile X syndrome, have elevated levels of tau protein, and inhibiting tau expression prevents autism-like behaviors. Molecular Autism
  • In a preprint, researchers describe a high-throughput method for assessing spontaneous mutations in leader sequences of DNA. medRxiv
  • The autism-linked gene SYNGAP1 plays a role in cortical neuron development, which is distinct from its role in synaptic function. Nature Neuroscience
  • The time signature of white-matter activation in the brain is closely aligned with gray-matter responses, suggesting both provide useful information about brain function — even though white-matter activity is often considered an artifact. PNAS
  • Five researchers share their stories about leaving academia and learning what skills are in demand elsewhere. Nature
  • Depending on trait severity, autistic children show divergent patterns of functional connectivity in electroencephalograms compared with non-autistic children. Cerebral Cortex
  • The overall pattern of SHANK expression in postmortem human brains is generally similar to that of mouse brain — although in humans, the brainstem and thalamus tend to have more SHANK2, and the amygdala less. BMC Biology

Research image of postmortem brain cells showing SHANK2 expression.

Location, location: SHANK2 expression is found in pyramidal cell bodies, along dendrites, and at synapses in postmortem brains, but not in cell nuclei.

  • Neuropathologist Manuel Graeber, currently suspended from his University of Sydney position, has plans to create a whistleblower defense fund for academics who face retribution by their institutions. Times Higher Education
  • Wait times exceed four months in almost two-thirds of centers conducting autism evaluations, according to a new report sponsored by Cognoa, a company developing AI-powered diagnostic tools. Spectrum reported on questions surrounding Cognoa’s work in 2021. Fierce Healthcare
spotted, autism, spectrum
Welcome to The Transmitter
The Spectrum team is excited to announce the launch of The Transmitter, a new publication for the neuroscience community. Spectrum is now a key section of The Transmitter and will continue to publish news and perspectives about autism research. Soon, you will be able to find all previous Spectrum articles at thetransmitter.org.