Autism Research: May 15, 2015 Week in Review

ResearchAutism behavior differs in girls and boys

Researchers from University of California, the Davis Health System have identified significant differences in the basic biology of brains of children with autism. Autism spectrum disorders primarily affect male children with a frequency of 8:1. Thus, it’s poorly understood as to why girls are protected. The researchers found differences in the corpus callosum, a mass of nervous tissue in the brain that connects the two halves of the brain. The findings have been published this week in the journal Molecular Autism and were also presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) at Salt Lake City. The study was led by Christine Wu Nordahl in an attempt to identify the exact cause of autism by identifying the reason for the gender bias.

Journal Reference: Christine Wu Nordahl, Ana-Maria Iosif, et al. Sex differences in the corpus callosum in preschool-aged children with autism spectrum disorder. Molecular Autism, 2015; 6 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s13229-015-0005-4

Family gene studies reveal autism risk factors

A new study published by researchers from the University of Wasington Health Sciences studied 2400 kids on the spectrum, their siblings as well as their parents to gain insight into the condition. The team of researchers led by Niklas Klumm and Tychele Turner found that a certain vital protein that helps in arresting the formation of proteins was more common in kids on the spectrum due to certain genetic mutations as compared to typically developing children. The study has been published in the journal Nature Genetics this week.

Journal Reference: Niklas Krumm, Tychele N Turner, Carl Baker, et al. Excess of rare, inherited truncating mutations in autism. Nature Genetics, 2015; DOI: 10.1038/ng.3303

Study reveals how dentist visits could be more pleasant for kids on spectrum

A new study conducted by the University of South California has shown how making minor tweaks in a dentist’s office could make visits to the dentists less stressful for everybody involved. Many typical children as well as children on the spectrum tend to show heightened sensitivity when going to the dentist owing to the bright lights, shrill machinery sounds, etc. The findings of the study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders by lead author Sharon Cermak show how adapting the dentist’s office for these children can make it a far less frightening experience. They dimmed all overhead office lights, played soothing music all along and had chairs with a picture of a butterfly that snugly gave the child a deep hug and helped reduce the pain, discomfort that are usually seen at every dentist visit.

Journal Reference: Sharon A. Cermak, Leah I. Stein Duker, et al. Sensory Adapted Dental Environments to Enhance Oral Care for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 2015; DOI: 10.1007/s10803-015-2450-5

Psychosis balances off autism in perspective-formation, study reveals

Researchers from the University of Birmingham have new insight on how autistic and psychotic tendencies could actually balance off and neutralize certain difficulties faced by the person. Published this week in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the study showed how perspective-taking problems might get diminished in such adults that showed both traits. This is a one of its kind research that showed how neuropsychiatric conditions might actually have some positive counterbalances that could help people overcome everyday hurdles.

Journal reference: Proceedings of the Royal Society B Provided by University of Birmingham