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Beautiful branches: Chandelier cells have a very distinctive shape, forming candlestick-like strings of synapses that line up vertically.
Forced separation: Offspring of mothers restrained in a box or compelled to swim in a beaker of cold water show gene expression changes that are passed down to their descendants.
White's anatomy: Diffusion tensor imaging — which traces the flow of water molecules through the brain — shows abnormalities in white matter in the brains of people with autism compared with controls.
Complex networks: Diffusion tensor imaging, which traces the flow of water molecules through the brain, charts connections between distant brain regions.
Social distortion: Rather than interacting with other mice as controls do (bottom), mice lacking the CNTNAP2 gene (top) keep to themselves.
Attention deficit: Children with Asperger syndrome have trouble remembering where a colored square is located on a gray field.
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Fear factor: Healthy people with a smaller-than-average amygdala cannot recognize fearful facial expressions, but easily identify other emotions.
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Point breaks: Mutations that disrupt the translation of brain proteins appear more often in children with autism than in their unaffected siblings.
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Powered search: A new study aims to analyze rare variants in 4,000 people in the general population and 6,000 with rare diseases.
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Getting physical: Healthy males and people with autism have more trouble recognizing human movement than do healthy women.
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Knocked down: Zebrafish lacking AUTS2 (right), a gene linked to autism, have fewer neurons in the mid-brain region compared with controls (left).
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Squeaky pups: When separated from their mothers, young mice with an extra copy of the gene GTF2I emit cries of distress.
Growth spurt: Insulin-like growth factor 1, a protein that regulates nerve cell growth and development, shows promise as an autism treatment.
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Face time: A Facebook-based version of a new screen for autism accurately identifies the disorder in 98 percent of those already diagnosed.
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Born again: Researchers disrupted DISC1 exclusively in newborn neurons in the hippocampus of adult mice.
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Born again: Researchers disrupted DISC1 exclusively in newborn neurons in the hippocampus of adult mice.
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Sharp critters: Mice lacking the PRICKLE2 gene do well on memory tests such as this maze and have social deficits reminiscent of autism.
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Sight unseen: Little is known about the visual abilities of girls with Rett syndrome.
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Color code: Some genes expressed differently in individuals with autism than in controls overlap with autism-linked chromosomal regions.
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Wave theory: Low signal-to-noise ratios from brain scans could be used as a biomarker for autism.
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Size matters: Based on diffusion tensor imaging, two language-related areas of the brain are much smaller in non-verbal children with autism than in controls.
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Sweet dreams: Melatonin, an over-the-counter dietary supplement, improves the erratic sleeping patterns of some children with autism.
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Social songs: Like human language, zebra finch song is complex and has an important social purpose, making it an interesting avenue for autism research.
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Fluorescent tool: Researchers can target a ribosomal subunit (green) to specific neurons in the brain to look at gene expression.
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Hyper mutants: Mice lacking SHANK2, a gene linked to autism and mental retardation, frequently jump up and down.
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Multiple models: Mice lacking the Rett syndrome protein MeCP2 in different subsets of neurons are helping researchers understand key pathways involved in the disorder.
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Heat map: Brain regions are each responsible for a wide range of functions (with warmer colors indicating more diversity), such as the processing of memory or emotion.
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Young and old: Patterns of connectivity from the amygdala to other regions can predict age to within two years.
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Breaking ground: A new brain 'atlas' reveals that the autism-linked gene neurexin-3 is expressed in the same neurons as enzymes associated with the disorder.
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Fight or flight: Drugs that act on cells in the locus coeruleus, a part of the brain stem, may treat some autism symptoms.
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Play partners: Rats have much more dramatic social behaviors than mice do, making them ideal for studying autism, researchers say.
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Fruitful flies: Drosophila melanogaster have simpler brains than humans do but express many of the same proteins, making them a good model for biochemical studies of autism.
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Vital vitamin: Folate travels from the peripheral blood supply into the cerebrospinal fluid by binding to receptors on brain ventricles.
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Master regulators: Tiny pieces of RNA, called microRNAs, seem to affect the expression of neuronal and immune genes in autism brains.
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Dark disease: Mouse brains expressing a fluorescent version of UBE3A (top) don’t show any fluorescence when the maternal copy of the gene is missing (above).
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Mini skulls: Researchers can use structural imaging for detailed scans of the brains of various mouse models.
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A. Rzhetsky and K. P. White Network news: Despite autism’s diversity, there are shared patterns of expression in brain tissue of people with the disorder.
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Love hormone: After a single dose of oxytocin, fathers were less willing to stop gazing at their babies.
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Methyl marks: A study of pregnant women could help clarify the gene-environment interactions that raise autism risk.
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Size matters: Large, population-based studies are needed to determine how head size varies in children who develop autism.
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Immune inheritance: Prenatal exposure to certain antibodies is linked to large head size in both monkeys and people.
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Long road: The symptoms associated with some autism-related disorders, such as Phelan-McDermid syndrome, change dramatically as the individuals age.
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Power muscle: When linking up with muscle cells, motor neurons derived from people with Phelan-McDermid syndrome don’t show the expected boost in an autism-linked protein.
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Click to enlarge image 15q quotas: People with a third copy of a part of chromosome 15 fare worse than those who have a duplication of that region.
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Swine secrets: Researchers have mapped pig versions of 11 of the genes in a chromosomal region linked to autism and related disorders.
Common copies: With dropping costs, genetic testing is becoming more common, and reveals that duplication of 15q11-13 is the second most common chromosomal alteration in autism.
Disease in a dish: Neurons derived from people with Timothy syndrome make more of certain chemical messengers than controls do.
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Better tracking: Automated tools might minimize subjective bias and help standardize behavioral assessments of children with developmental disorders.
Left-leaning: Unlike controls (top), Temple Grandin has lateral ventricles (bottom) that are significantly larger on the left side of her brain than on the right.
Talk soup: A drug prescribed for anxiety may improve verbal fluency in people with autism.
Soft touch: Like people with Phelan-McDermid syndrome, mice modeling the disorder have high pain tolerance.
Dad’s mark: Men older than 40 may have abnormal patterns of DNA methylation that influence autism risk.
Dose dependence: In gut cells, oxytocin affects the activity of signaling molecules linked to autism.
Social spots: Regions in the so-called social brain are activated when looking at and thinking about other people.
Interaction point: An imaging study suggests that different parts of the brain respond to different types of social stimuli.
Sensory signals: When a sound and a touch are presented simultaneously, the brain of a mouse model of autism (bottom) responds differently than the brains of controls (top).
Automated imaging: A high-throughput screening approach highlights neuronal connections (red). Cell nuclei are in blue.
Motor mice: A drug being tested for Rett syndrome does not improve performance on the rotarod in a mouse model of the disorder.
Marble madness: Mice prone to repetitive behaviors stop obsessively burying marbles after a low dose of a drug.
Target, cerebellum: Combining information from databases of gene expression and autism candidate genes points to the cerebellum (yellow.)
Pretty pictures:  A new atlas of gene expression in the zebra finch aims to illustrate the expression of more than 1,500 genes, including one that codes for the autism-linked protein parvalbumin.
Old and young: A variant in an autism-linked gene decreases the size of the temporal lobe in both older (top) and younger people (bottom).
A. Accamando Alpha male: Free-ranging rhesus macaques have complex social hierarchies and behaviors, including severe aggression.
Role reversal: Predicting people’s actions requires different skills than inferring their mental state, suggests a new test of theory of mind.
Click to enlarge image Domain name: Different segments of the SHANK3 protein interact with distinct proteins at the junctions between neurons.
Flawed beginning: Neural progenitor cells from people with Rett syndrome show various differences in chemical signaling compared with controls.
Brain view: Researchers can use a visualization tool to explore the connectome data, looking at wiring in different parts of the brain, for example.
Growth spurt: In mice, prenatal exposure to autism-linked antibodies (bottom) increases the number of neural progenitor cells (green) compared with controls (top).
Primate perks: Marmosets make good scientific models because they reproduce quickly, show a range of complex behaviors and weigh about a pound.
Round and round: Mice learn that pushing a wheel delivers a jolt of pleasure to their brain, similar to a drug high.
Social sections: Viewing an emotional scene between two characters in a movie lights up the social brain.
Click to enlarge image Directional dilemma: People with autism have trouble determining the direction of a set of arrows.