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Pets Increase Social Behaviors in Children with Autism

Researchers Identify Red Flag for Autism in Infants

Gene Abnormalities in Autism Identified: UC San Diego Researchers

Study Compares Traits of Autism and Schizophrenia: UT Dallas

Brain Differences Seen at 6 Months in Infants Who Develop Autism: Washington University

Toolkit Makes Bedtime Less Stressful for Children With Autism: Vanderbilt University

Special Needs Digest

 

 
Carnegie Mellon Researchers Accurately Predict Autism Diagnosis Based on Brain Representations

 

 

Brain Representations of Social Thoughts Accurately Predict Autism Diagnosis

 

New findings from Carnegie Mellon identify altered 'thought-markers' of autism

PITTSBURGH, PA; December 2, 2014—Psychiatric disorders—including autism—are characterized and diagnosed based on a clinical assessment of verbal and physical behavior. However, brain imaging and cognitive neuroscience are poised to provide a powerful advanced new tool.

Carnegie Mellon University researchers have created brain-reading techniques to use neural representations of social thoughts to predict autism diagnoses with 97 percent accuracy. This establishes the first biologically based diagnostic tool that measures a person's thoughts to detect the disorder that affects many children and adults worldwide.
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Facial Motion a Clue to Difficulties in Social Interaction among Autistic Adults

 

People with ASD struggle to recognise changing facial expressions

November 13, 2014—People on the autistic spectrum may struggle to recognise social cues, unfamiliar people or even someone's gender because of an inability to interpret changing facial expressions, new research has found.
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How Does the Brain Develop in Individuals with Autism?

 

New mouse model for autism: Mutated gene causes parts of the brain to degenerate, leading to behavioral deficits, geneticists from Heidelberg publish study in Molecular Psychiatry, better understanding can help deal with disease

November 12, 2014—Geneticists at Heidelberg University Hospital's Department of Molecular Human Genetics have used a new mouse model to demonstrate the way a certain genetic mutation is linked to a type of autism in humans and affects brain development and behavior.
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Association between Air Toxicants and Childhood Autism

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 22, 2014 – Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) were more likely to have been exposed to higher levels of certain air toxicants during their mothers' pregnancies and the first two years of life compared to children without the condition, according to the preliminary findings of a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health investigation of children in southwestern Pennsylvania.
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Siblings of Children with Autism Can Show Signs at 18 Months

October 20, 2014—About 20% of younger siblings of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) will develop the condition by age 3. A new study by Yale School of Medicine researchers has found that 57% of these younger siblings who later develop the condition already showed symptoms at age 18 months.
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Early Warning Sign in Babies at Risk for Autism

 

Researchers at the University of Miami find that early joint attention predicts later autism symptoms

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (July 24, 2014)—Some babies are at risk for autism because they have an older sibling that has the disorder. To find new ways to detect Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) earlier in life, researchers are exploring the subtleties of babies' interactions with others and how they relate to the possibility and severity of future symptoms.
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Defects in Fatty Acid Transport Proteins Linked to Schizophrenia and Autism

July 15, 2014—Using diverse methodologies, neuroscientists from the RIKEN Brain Science Institute report that defects in Fatty Acid Binding Proteins (FABPs) may help to explain the pathology in some cases of schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders. After identifying mutations in FABPs from patients, the group led by Senior Team Leader Takeo Yoshikawa determined that the genetic disruption of Fabps in mice mimics disease behaviors seen in patients. This work suggests that disruption of FABPs could be a common link underlying some forms of these two prevalent mental disorders.
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Researchers Find Genetic Link to Autism Known as CHD8 Mutation

 

Discovery affects half of 1 percent of autism patients but could lead way for more genetic testing

July 3, 2014—In a collaboration involving 13 institutions around the world, researchers have broken new ground in understanding what causes autism. The results are being published in Cell magazine July 3, 2014: "Disruptive CHD8 Mutations Define a Subtype of Autism in Early Development."
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Unintended Consequences: Autism, ADHD and Early Diagnosis

June 21, 2014—Raising happy, healthy, secure, responsible children is a formidable task at the best of times. To add to the challenge, parents today increasingly face the possibility that their offspring will be diagnosed—or misdiagnosed—with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder or autism spectrum disorder. A positive diagnosis is often traumatic and life-changing for the entire family; but the results of a misdiagnosis are no less devastating. Enrico Gnaulati explains in this interview with Gina Stepp
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Autism-Related Protein Shown to Play Vital Role in Addiction

 

May have major implications for understanding and implementation of drug-addiction treatment

BELMONT; May 9, 2014—In a paper published in the latest issue of the neuroscience journal Neuron, McLean Hospital investigators report that a gene essential for normal brain development, and previously linked to Autism Spectrum Disorders, also plays a critical role in addiction-related behaviors.
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Lipid Levels during Prenatal Brain Development Impact Autism

 

Exposure to environmental chemicals known to affect these levels

TORONTO, April 8, 2014—In a groundbreaking York University study, researchers have found that abnormal levels of lipid molecules in the brain can affect the interaction between two key neural pathways in early prenatal brain development, which can trigger autism. And, environmental causes such as exposure to chemicals in some cosmetics and common over-the-counter medication can affect the levels of these lipids, according to the researchers.
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Social Feedback Loop Aids Language Development

March 19, 2014—Verbal interactions between parents and children create a social feedback loop important for language development, according to research forthcoming in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. That loop appears to be experienced less frequently and is diminished in strength in interactions with autistic children.
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Study Suggests Potential Association between Soy Formula and Seizures in Children with Autism

MADISON, WI; March 13, 2014—A University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher has detected a higher rate of seizures among children with autism who were fed infant formula containing soy protein rather than milk protein. The study found excess seizures among girls and in the total sample of 1,949 children. The soy-seizure link reached borderline significance among boys, who comprised 87 percent of the children described in the database under study.
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Gene That Influences Receptive Joint Attention in Chimpanzees Gives Insight into Autism

February 4, 2014—Following another's gaze or looking in the direction someone is pointing, two examples of receptive joint attention, is significantly heritable according to new study results from researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University. Determining such communicative cues are significantly heritable means variation in this ability has a genetic basis, which led the researchers to the vasopressin receptor gene, known for its role in social bonding.
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Speech Disrupts Facial Attention in 6-Month-Olds Who Later Develop Autism

 

Reports new study in Biological Psychiatry

Philadelphia, PA, February 4, 2014—From birth, infants naturally show a preference for human contact and interaction, including faces and voices. These basic predispositions to social stimuli are altered in individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). A new study published in Biological Psychiatry this week, from researchers at the Yale University School of Medicine, now reports that 6-month-old infants later diagnosed with autism divert their gaze from facial features when that face is speaking.
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Making the Brain Social

 

Failure to eliminate links between neurons produces autistic-like mice

February 2, 2014—In many people with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders, different parts of the brain don't talk to each other very well. Scientists have now identified, for the first time, a way in which this decreased functional connectivity can come about. In a study published online today in Nature Neuroscience, scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Monterotondo, Italy, and collaborators at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT), in Rovereto, and La Sapienza University in Rome, demonstrate that it can be caused by cells called microglia failing to trim connections between neurons.
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Study Reveals Senses of Sight and Sound Separated in Children with Autism

January 14, 2014—Like watching a foreign movie that was badly dubbed, children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have trouble integrating simultaneous information from their eyes and their ears, according to a Vanderbilt study published today in The Journal of Neuroscience.
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Hospital-Diagnosed Maternal Infections Linked to Increased Autism Risk

December 23, 2013—Hospital-diagnosed maternal bacterial infections during pregnancy were associated with an increased risk of autism spectrum disorders in children, according to a Kaiser Permanente study published Dec. 23 in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
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Probiotic Therapy Alleviates Some Autism-like Behaviors in Mice

December 5, 2013—Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is diagnosed when individuals exhibit characteristic behaviors that include repetitive actions, decreased social interactions, and impaired communication. Curiously, many individuals with ASD also suffer from gastrointestinal (GI) issues, such as abdominal cramps and constipation.
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Video Could Transform How Schools Serve Teens with Autism

October 17, 2013—Video-based teaching helps teens with autism learn important social skills, and the method eventually could be used widely by schools with limited resources, a Michigan State University researcher says.
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Study Provides Clues about Imitation or "Empathy Impairments" in Autistic Children

 

Researchers ferret out function of autism gene

Findings in bacteria, yeast, mice show how flawed transport gene contributes to the condition

September 30, 2013—Researchers say it's clear that some cases of autism are hereditary, but have struggled to draw direct links between the condition and particular genes. Now a team at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology has devised a process for connecting a suspect gene to its function in autism.
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Researchers Discover a Potential Cause of Autism

 

Key enzymes are found to have a 'profound effect' across dozens of genes linked to autism, the insight could help illuminate environmental factors behind autism spectrum disorder and contribute to a unified theory of how the disorder develops

CHAPEL HILL, NC; August 28, 2013—Problems with a key group of enzymes called topoisomerases can have profound effects on the genetic machinery behind brain development and potentially lead to autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to research announced today in the journal Nature. Scientists at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine have described a finding that represents a significant advance in the hunt for environmental factors behind autism and lends new insights into the disorder's genetic causes.
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Autistic Children Can Outgrow Difficulty Understanding Visual Cues and Sounds

BRONX, NY; August 28, 2013—Scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have shown that high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (ASD) children appear to outgrow a critical social communication disability. Younger children with ASD have trouble integrating the auditory and visual cues associated with speech, but the researchers found that the problem clears up in adolescence. The study was published today in the online edition of the journal Cerebral Cortex.
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Autistic Kids Who Best Peers at Math Show Different Brain Organization

STANFORD, CA; August 16, 2013—Children with autism and average IQs consistently demonstrated superior math skills compared with nonautistic children in the same IQ range, according to a study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital.

"There appears to be a unique pattern of brain organization that underlies superior problem-solving abilities in children with autism," said Vinod Menon, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and a member of the Child Health Research Institute at Packard Children's.

The autistic children's enhanced math abilities were tied to patterns of activation in a particular area of their brains—an area normally associated with recognizing faces and visual objects.
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Making the Brain Attend to Faces in Autism

 

A new study in Biological Psychiatry explores the influence of oxytocin

Philadelphia, PA; August 15, 2013Difficulty in registering and responding to the facial expressions of other people is a hallmark of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Relatedly, functional imaging studies have shown that individuals with ASD display altered brain activations when processing facial images.

The hormone oxytocin plays a vital role in the social interactions of both animals and humans. In fact, multiple studies conducted with healthy volunteers have provided evidence for beneficial effects of oxytocin in terms of increased trust, improved emotion recognition, and preference for social stimuli. This combination of scientific work led German researchers to hypothesize about the influence of oxytocin in ASD. 
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Elevated Gluten Antibodies Found in Children with Autism

 

But No Link to Celiac Disease

NEW YORK; June 20, 2013—Researchers have found elevated antibodies to gluten proteins of wheat in children with autism in comparison to those without autism. The results also indicated an association between the elevated antibodies and the presence of gastrointestinal symptoms in the affected children. They did not find any connection, however, between the elevated antibodies and celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder known to be triggered by gluten. The results were e-published in the journal PLOS ONE.
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New Research Suggests Possible Direction  for Treatment of Autism

WASHINGTON; May 17, 2013—In the first successful experiment with humans using a treatment known as sensory-motor or environmental enrichment, researchers documented marked improvement in young autistic boys when compared to boys treated with traditional behavioral therapies, according to research published by APA.

The rationale for the new treatment is rooted in the fact that autistic children typically have sensory problems, the most common involving smell and touch sensitivity. Building on decades of work in animals documenting the profound effects of environmental enrichment on behavioral and neurological outcomes, the authors of the study predicted that similar enrichment in autistic children would have beneficial effects.
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Epigenetic Changes Shed Light on Biological Mechanism of Autism

April 23-2013Scientists from King's College London have identified patterns of epigenetic changes involved in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by studying genetically identical twins who differ in autism traits. The study, published in Molecular Psychiatry, is the largest of its kind and may shed light on the biological mechanism by which environmental influences regulate the activity of certain genes and in turn contribute to the development of ASD and related behaviour traits.
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