Autism Spectrum Disorder

“Covert” Neurofeedback Tunes-up the Social Brain in ASD

Young people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) thought they were just playing a picture puzzle game while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanning. In fact, the game was rigged – by their own brain activity. The more participants spontaneously activated social brain circuitry known to be under-connected in ASD, the more pieces of a puzzle filled-in to reveal the picture. Since the game was controlled by circuit activity, the participants were unknowingly tuning-up their own brains.…

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Inherited Variations in Noncoding Sections of DNA Associated with Autism

A new study has identified an association between paternally-inherited rare structural variants in noncoding segments of genes and the development of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The study, funded in part by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and published in Science, adds to a growing body of research describing genetic contributors to ASD. ASD is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior. While the exact causes of ASD are unknown, researchers have identified a number of…

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Amygdala neurons increase as children become adults — except in autism

In a striking new finding, researchers at the UC Davis MIND Institute found that typically-developing children gain more neurons in a region of the brain that governs social and emotional behavior, the amygdala, as they become adults. This phenomenon does not happen in people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Instead, children with ASD have too many neurons early on and then appear to lose those neurons as they become adults. The findings were published today…

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Suspect Molecules Overlap in Autism, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder

Evidence has been mounting that some mental disorders share many of the same genetic risk factors. Now, researchers have discovered that this overlap extends to the molecular level – some of these suspect genes also turn on-and-off similarly in the brains of people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. These molecular signatures may hold clues to what goes wrong in the brain in these disorders—and potentially ways to better treat or even prevent…

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Suspect Molecules Overlap in Autism, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder

Evidence has been mounting that some mental disorders share many of the same genetic risk factors. Now, researchers have discovered that this overlap extends to the molecular level – some of these suspect genes also turn on-and-off similarly in the brains of people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. These molecular signatures may hold clues to what goes wrong in the brain in these disorders—and potentially ways to better treat or even prevent…

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Common cerebral white matter abnormalities found in children with autistic traits

Structural abnormalities in the brain’s white matter match up consistently with the severity of autistic symptoms not only in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but also, to some degree, in those with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who also have autistic traits. This is the finding of a new study, published September 6 in JAMA Psychiatry, which highlights evidence supporting the theory that common, underlying brain mechanisms may be responsible for autistic traits seen in both diagnoses.…

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Children with autism may be over-diagnosed with ADHD, new study suggests

A well-established screening tool used to assess children for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be less accurate when a child has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Pediatric researchers report that children with ASD may mistakenly be diagnosed with ADHD because they have autism-related social impairments rather than problems with attention. This is important for understanding what are the right services and treatments for a child. The study team, including one of the psychologists who developed…

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Percentage of US children who have chronic health conditions on the rise

The percentage of children with chronic health conditions is on the rise, and new research being presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies 2016 Meeting shows this is especially true among children who live in or near poverty. Researchers presenting the study abstract, “National Trends in Prevalence and Co-morbid Chronic Conditions among Children with Asthma, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder,” looked at data from the National Survey of Children’s Health data for 2003,…

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