Children and Teens with Autism More Likely to Become Preoccupied with Video Games, MU Researcher Says

Many parents and clinicians have noticed that children with ASD are fascinated with technology, and the results of our recent studies certainly support this idea, said Micah Mazurek, an assistant professor of health psychology and a clinical child psychologist at MU. We found that children with ASD spent much more time playing video games than typically developing children, and they are much more likely to develop problematic or addictive patterns of video game play.

Detecting autism from brain activity

In a study of 19 children, nine with ASD141 sensors, tracked the activity of each childs cortex. The sensors recorded how different regions interacted with each other while at rest, and compared the brains interactions of the control group to those with ASD. Researchers found significantly stronger connections between rear and frontal areas of the brain in the ASD group; there was an asymmetrical flow of information to the frontal region, but not vice versa.

Autism Model in Mice Linked With Genetics

For the first time, researchers have linked autism in a mouse model of the disease with abnormalities in specific regions of the animals chromosomes. 

The regions contain genes associated with aberrant brain development and activity. These discoveries in mice may eventually pave the way towards understanding autism in human patients and devising new treatments, said co-senior author, Elliott H. Sherr, MD, PhD, a pediatric neurologist at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital and professor of neurology at UC San Francisco (UCSF).

Children with autism leave 'silly' out

When a child with autism copies the actions of an adult, he or she is likely to omit anything "silly" about what they've just seen. In contrast, typically developing children will go out of their way to repeat each and every element of the behavior even as they may realize that parts of it don't make any sense.

Autism Linked to Increased Genetic Change in Regions of Genome Instability

Earlier work had identified, in children with autism, a greater frequency of rare DNA deletions or duplications, known as DNA copy number changes. These rare and harmful events are found in approximately 5 to 10 percent of cases, raising the question as to what other genetic changes might contribute to the disorders known as autism spectrum disorders. The new research shows that children with autism have -- in addition to these rare events -- an excess of duplicated DNA including more common variants not exclusively found in children with autism, but are found at elevated levels compared to typically developing children.

Study identifies genetic connections in 15q Duplication Syndrome

Chromosome 15q Duplication Syndrome (Dup15q) results from duplications of chromosome 15q11-q13. Duplications that are maternal in origin often result in developmental problems. The larger 15q duplication syndrome, which includes individuals with idic15, manifests itself in a wide range of developmental disabilities including autism spectrum disorders; motor, cognitive and speech/language delays; and seizure disorders among others.

Researcher uncovers potential cause, biomarker for autism and proposes study to investigate theory

A New York-based physician-researcher from Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, best known for his research into fertility and twinning, has uncovered a potential connection between autism and a specific growth protein that could eventually be used as a way to predict an infant's propensity to later develop the disease. The protein, called insulin-like growth factor (IGF), is especially involved in the normal growth and development of babies' brain cells. Based on findings of prior published studies, Touro researcher Gary Steinman, MD, PhD, proposes that depressed levels of this protein in the blood of newborns could potentially serve as a biomarker for the later development of autism.

Genome-wide Atlas of Gene Enhancers in the Brain On-line

Understanding how the brain develops and functions, and how it malfunctions in neurological disorders, remains one of the most daunting challenges in contemporary science, says Axel Visel, a geneticist with Berkeley Labs Genomics Division. Weve created a genome-wide digital atlas of gene enhancers in the human brain the switches that tell genes when and where they need to be switched on or off. This enhancer atlas will enable other scientists to study in more detail how individual genes are regulated during development of the brain, and how genetic mutations may impact human neurological disorders.