Remembering child psychiatrist Michael Rutter

Sir Michael Rutter, widely hailed as the ‘father of child psychiatry,’ was part of the team that first showed autism has a genetic component. He died 23 October at age 88.

By Peter Hess
1 November 2021 | 6 min read
Twin boys sleeping on green sheets.
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Genetic roots of sleep issues, autism may be entwined

The same genetic factors may underlie both autism and autistic people's tendency to have sleep problems, such as insomnia.

By James Prudden
9 August 2021 | 4 min read
Image shows two young girls, identical twins, covering their faces with leaves while facing each other.

Q&A with John Constantino: Solving the biomarker conundrum

Biological factors that reflect autism’s roots may differ from those that influence how severe the condition is. Failure to make a distinction has stymied the search for biomarkers.

By Alla Katsnelson
3 August 2021 | 7 min read
DNA helix inside the human body
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Autism genetics, explained

The more scientists dig into DNA, the more intricate its contribution to autism seems to be. Here, we unravel the complex genetics of autism.

By Nicholette Zeliadt
28 May 2021 | 5 min read
Teen girl up at night, looking at her computer.
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Childhood autism traits linked to hypomania in adolescence

Children with autism traits tend to show agitation, excitability, decreased sleep and other mild signs of mania in adolescence; the association is higher in identical twins than fraternal twins, suggesting that genetics plays a role.

By Laura Dattaro
10 May 2021 | 4 min read
Twin sisters spending their time using laptop and smart phone at home
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Genes drive autistic people’s reactivity to environmental cues

Genes influence how autistic people react to sights, sounds and other sensory cues, whereas environmental factors shape their tendency to notice and seek out such stimuli, a new study in twins suggests.

By Jonathan Moens
2 April 2021 | 4 min read
twins seated at a table in bright red chairs.

Environment may have outsized effect on brain structure in autism

Environmental factors influence brain structure in autistic children more than in non-autistic children, according to an analysis of imaging data from twins.

By Alla Katsnelson
12 January 2021 | 3 min read
Approximately 24 month old twin girls, one of them reaching for something.
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Genes’ influence on social behaviors shifts with age

Some social behaviors associated with autism are heritable, but the extent to which genes and the environment influence these behaviors changes as a child grows.

By Laura Dattaro
14 December 2020 | 5 min read

Environmental factors unlikely to account for rise in autism prevalence

The relative contributions of genetic and environmental factors to autism have held steady over multiple decades, according to a large twin study.

By Peter Hess
18 May 2020 | 4 min read
Teenage girl with headache
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Autistic people have increased incidence of neurological problems

People with autism have more brain-related health problems, such as headaches and epilepsy, than typical people do.

By Laura Dattaro
23 January 2020 | 5 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