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Autism

People with autism are less surprised by the unexpected

Adults with autism may overestimate the volatility of the world around them, finds a new UCL study published in Nature Neuroscience. The researchers found that adults with autism were less surprised by unexpected images in a simple learning task than adults without autism, and those who were the least surprised had the most pronounced symptoms. “We know from previous studies that people with autism often aren’t surprised by things that would surprise other people,” said lead author Dr Rebecca Lawson (UCL Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging). “Our results suggest that this may be because of differences in how people with autism build expectations. Our expectations bias our behaviour in subtle ways, so being less susceptible to these effects may result in strengths...

Eye test could help diagnose autism

A new study out in European Journal of Neuroscience could herald a new tool that helps physicians identify a sub-group of people with Autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The test, which consists of measuring rapid eye movements, may indicate deficits in an area of the brain that plays an important role in emotional and social development. “These findings build upon a growing field of research that show that eye movement could serve as a window into a part of the brain that plays a role in a number of neurological and development disorders, such as Autism,” said John Foxe, Ph.D., director of the University of Rochester Medical Center Del Monte Neuroscience Institute and co-author of the study. ASD is characterized by a wide range of symptoms that can vary in severity from person to...

Autism: Which children respond to oxytocin treatment?

Oxytocin treatment has been proven efficient in improving the social behavior of some children with autism, studies have found. A new clinical trial investigates which children will respond best to this treatment and why. Autism is a developmental disability that often leads to struggles in communication, reduced empathy, and social inadaptability to a greater or lesser degree.

Autism linked to many other health issues

Autism spectrum disorder affects 1 in 68 children in the U.S. Challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communications are some of the issues people with autism may experience. But what many don’t know is that those with autism often struggle with an array of other health problems, too.

If your grandmother smoked, you may be more likely to develop autism

A recent study, published in Scientific Reports, concludes that if a girl’s maternal grandmother smoked tobacco during her pregnancy, she is significantly more likely to develop autistic traits. Could smoking increase the risk of your grandchildren displaying autism-associated traits? Autism, characterized by repetitive behaviors and difficulty interacting socially, appears to be on the rise. Much of this increase is thought to be due to better detection rates and greater awareness. However, many scientists believe that environmental or lifestyle factors might also play a role. A recent study, carried out by researchers from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, looked into three generations of data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), a long-...

World’s largest autism genome database shines new light on many ‘autisms’

isThe newest study from the Autism Speaks MSSNG project – the world’s largest autism genome sequencing program – identified an additional 18 gene variations that appear to increase the risk of autism. The new report appears in the journal Nature Neuroscience. It involved the analysis of 5,205 whole genomes from families affected by autism – making it the largest whole genome study of autism to date.

Cerebrospinal fluid: Potential biomarker for autism found

Research published this week in Biological Psychiatry examines levels of cerebrospinal fluid in children and its potential link to autism. If confirmed by further studies, it would become the first biomarker for the condition.

Genital herpes in pregnancy may raise autism risk for offspring

Children born to mothers who have active genital herpes during pregnancy may be at twice the risk of developing autism spectrum disorder, new research suggests. Researchers suggest a link between active HSV-2 in early pregnancy and autism risk in offspring. Lead author Milada Mahic, of the Center for Infection and Immunity and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Norway, and colleagues report their findings in the journal mSphere. Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted infection primarily caused by herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2). Around 417 million people worldwide have genital herpes caused by HSV-2, with around 10-20 percent of cases occurring in people who have received a prior diagnosis of the condition.

Brain alterations in preterm babies may begin weeks before birth

Alterations in the developing brain that can put preterm babies at risk of autism, cerebral palsy, and other developmental disorders may begin in the womb. This is the finding of a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports. Preterm birth is defined as the birth of an infant prior to 37 weeks of pregnancy. In the United States, around 1 in every 10 infants born in 2015 were preterm.

New form of autism found

Autism spectrum disorders affect around one percent of the world’s population and are characterized by a range of difficulties in social interaction and communication. In a new study published in Cell, a team of researchers led by Gaia Novarino, Professor at IST Austria, has identified a new genetic cause of ASD. Gaia Novarino explains why this finding is significant: “There are many different genetic mutations causing autism, and they are all very rare. This heterogeneity makes it difficult to develop effective treatments. Our analysis not only revealed a new autism-linked gene, but also identified the mechanism by which its mutation causes autism. Excitingly, mutations in other genes share the same autism-causing mechanism, indicating that we may have underscored a subgroup o...

Sodium channel gene takes diverging paths in autism, epilepsy

Mutations in a gene called SCN2A have opposite effects in autism and in epilepsy. The divergence makes the gene an attractive candidate for research, suggest unpublished results presented today at the 2016 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego.

Researchers propose new explanation for symptoms of fragile X syndrome

  Until recently, scientists thought they understood one of the underlying causes of fragile X syndrome, the most common inherited cause of intellectual disability in the United States. The syndrome, which is associated with autism, was believed to be linked primarily to overactivity in a molecular pathway in the brain. But then, in 2014, two large-scale, multinational clinical trials aimed at treating fragile X by inhibiting that pathway failed.

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