The brain

A research image of a mouse hippocampus

Some social issues in DYRK1A model mice stem from faulty inhibitory circuits

Alterations in inhibitory circuits and difficulties in social recognition characterize mice missing one copy of DYRK1A, a gene linked to autism.

By Giorgia Guglielmi
11 October 2023 | 4 min read
Research image of cerebral organoids.

Method pinpoints cell-specific effects of autism-linked mutations

The approach, which combines CRISPR with single-cell analyses of organoids, suggests that intermediate progenitor cells are especially vulnerable to mutations associated with autism.

By Celia Ford
3 October 2023 | 3 min read
Research image of presynapses on sensory neurons in fruit flies.
Spectrum Microphone

UBE3A’s link to synaptic pruning bolstered by fly study

Increasing or reducing the levels of the UBE3A gene, which is associated with autism and autism-related syndromes, results in altered patterns of synaptic pruning — a process that snips away brain cell connections.

By Giorgia Guglielmi
28 September 2023 | 5 min read
Research image of organoids in the forebrain.

Head size parts autism into two major subtypes

An imbalance in the number of excitatory neurons in early brain development may account for the difference.

By Charles Q. Choi
12 September 2023 | 4 min read
A patient receives transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Magnetic stimulation for autism: Q&A with Xujun Duan

A new individualized approach to transcranial magnetic stimulation may one day be an effective treatment for social and communication difficulties, if the results from Duan’s small preliminary trial pan out.

By Angie Voyles Askham
11 September 2023 | 6 min read
Research image of neurons in mice.

Skewed signaling in striatum may spawn repetitive behaviors

Synaptic changes in the brain region could drive a core trait of fragile X syndrome, a new mouse study suggests.

By Holly Barker
6 September 2023 | 3 min read
A grid of four brain scans showing excess cerebrospinal fluid.
Spectrum Microphone

Is excess brain fluid an early marker of autism?

Brain scans of hundreds of infants suggest that up to 80 percent of those with autism have unusual amounts of cerebrospinal fluid. Researchers are studying how this might contribute to the condition.

By Giorgia Guglielmi
17 August 2023 | 10 min read
Position heatmaps of mice performing a behavioral assay.

New test taps nose pokes as a proxy for social motivation in mice

Over one hour, a particularly motivated mouse poked its nose 350 times into a hole in the test chamber in the hopes of meeting a playmate.

By Holly Barker
10 August 2023 | 5 min read
Research image of neurons.

Abundant motor proteins disrupt cries in FOXP2 mice

Knocking down the gene that codes for the proteins normalizes the vocalizations.

By Laura Dattaro, Maaisha Osman
28 July 2023 | 3 min read
Illustration of half of a brain on the left and half of a heart on the right
Spectrum Microphone

Change of heart and mind: Autism’s ties to cardiac defects

Children with congenital heart disease have an increased likelihood of autism. Why?

By Lauren Schenkman
21 July 2023 | 12 min read

Explore more from The Transmitter

Brain organoids overgrowth; DSCAM gene; sleep issues in autism

Here is a roundup of autism-related news and research spotted around the web for the week of 24 June.

By Jill Adams
25 June 2024 | 2 min read
Close-up image of a dead fly with visible growths protruding from its abdomen due to Entomophthora fungus infection.

Mind control in zombie flies: Q&A with Carolyn Elya

A parasitic fungus compels its insect host to behave in strange ways by hijacking secretory neurons and circadian pathways.

By Shaena Montanari
25 June 2024 | 5 min read
Illustration of a canyon landscape with an orange clock face in place of a sun.

How to teach this paper: ‘Behavioral time scale synaptic plasticity underlies CA1 place fields,’ by Bittner and Milstein et al. (2017)

Katie Bittner, Aaron Milstein and their colleagues found that cellular learning can happen over longer timescales than Hebb’s rule predicts. How long should we wait to teach students about this phenomenon?

By Ashley Juavinett
24 June 2024 | 11 min read