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Papers of the Week

  • 1) J Abnorm Psychol. 2015 Jun 29. [Epub ahead of print]

    Impaired Recollection of Visual Scene Details in Adults With Autism Spectrum Conditions.

    Cooper RA, Plaisted-Grant KC, Hannula DE, Ranganath C, Baron-Cohen S, Simons JS.
    Subtle memory deficits observed in autism spectrum conditions (ASC) have often
    been characterized as reflecting impaired recollection and it has been proposed
    that a relational binding deficit may underlie the recollection impairment.
    However, subjective recollection and relational binding have not been measured
    within the same task in ASC to date and it is unclear whether a relational
    binding deficit can provide a full account of recollection impairments in ASC.
    Relational memory has also not been compared with item memory when the demands of
    the 2 tasks are comparable. To assess recollection, relational memory, and item
    memory within a single task in ASC, 24 adults with ASC and 24 typically developed
    adults undertook a change detection memory task that assessed recollection of
    item-specific and spatial details. Participants studied rendered indoor and
    outdoor scenes and, in a subsequent recognition memory test, distinguished scenes
    that had not changed from those that had either undergone an item change (a
    different item exemplar) or a relational (spatial) change, which was followed by 
    a subjective recollection judgment. The ASC group identified fewer item changes
    and spatial changes, to a similar degree, which was attributable to a specific
    reduction in recollection-based recognition relative to the control group. These 
    findings provide evidence that recollection deficits in ASC may not be driven
    entirely by a relational binding deficit. (PsycINFO Database Record
    (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved).
    PMID: 26120966  [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
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  • 2) J Nat Sci. 2015;1(7):e125.

    Melatonin in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: How Does the Evidence Fit Together?

    Veatch OJ(1), Goldman SE(2), Adkins KW(1), Malow BA(1).
    Author information: 
    (1)Sleep Disorders Division, Department of Neurology, Vanderbilt University
    Medical Center, Nashville, TN, USA. (2)South Sound Pulmonary & Sleep Medicine,
    Olympia, WA, USA.
    Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are prevalent neurodevelopmental conditions,
    affecting 1 in 68 children in the United States alone. Sleep disturbance,
    particularly insomnia, is very common in children diagnosed with ASD, with
    evidence supporting overlapping neurobiological and genetic underpinnings. One of
    the most well studied mechanisms related to ASD and insomnia is dysregulation of 
    the melatonin pathway, which has been observed in many individuals with ASD
    compared to typically developing controls. Furthermore, variation in genes whose 
    products regulate endogenous melatonin modify sleep patterns in humans and have
    also been implicated in some cases of ASD. However, the relationship between
    comorbid insomnia, melatonin processing, and genes that regulate endogenous
    melatonin levels in ASD is complex and requires further study to fully elucidate.
    The aim of this review is to provide an overview of the current findings related 
    to the effects of genetic variation in the melatonergic pathway on risk for
    expression of sleep disorders in children with ASD. In addition, functional
    findings related to endogenous levels of melatonin and pharmacokinetic profiles
    in this patient population are evaluated.
    PMID: 26120597  [PubMed]
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  • 3) Child Adolesc Psychiatry Ment Health. 2015 Jun 20;9:22. doi: 10.1186/s13034-015-0054-7. eCollection 2015.

    The effectiveness of psychosocial interventions for anxiety in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

    Kreslins A(1), Robertson AE(1), Melville C(1).
    Author information: 
    (1)Institute of Health and Wellbeing, University of Glasgow, 1st Floor Admin
    Building Gartnavel Royal Hospital, 1055 Great Western Road, Glasgow, G12 0XH,
    Anxiety is a common problem in children and adolescents with autism spectrum
    disorder (ASD). This meta-analysis aimed to systematically evaluate the evidence 
    for the use of psychosocial interventions to manage anxiety in this population.
    Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) was the primary intervention modality
    studied. A comprehensive systematic search and study selection process was
    conducted. Separate statistical analyses were carried out for clinician-,
    parent-, and self-reported outcome measures. Sensitivity analyses were conducted 
    by removing any outlying studies and any studies that did not use a CBT
    intervention. A subgroup analysis was performed to compare individual and group
    delivery of treatment. Ten randomised control trials involving a total of 470
    participants were included. The overall SMD was d = 1.05 (95 % CI 0.45, 1.65;
    z = 3.45, p = 0.0006) for clinician- reported outcome measures; d = 1.00 (95%CI
    0.21, 1.80; z = 2.47, p = 0.01) for parent-reported outcome measures; and
    d = 0.65 (95%CI -0.10, 1.07; z = 1.63, p = 0.10) for self-reported outcome
    measures. Clinician- and parent-reported outcome measures showed that
    psychosocial interventions were superior to waitlist and treatment-as-usual
    control conditions at post-treatment. However, the results of self-reported
    outcome measures failed to reach significance. The sensitivity analyses did not
    significantly change these results and the subgroup analysis indicated that
    individual treatment was more effective than group treatment. The main
    limitations of this review were the small number of included studies as well as
    the clinical and methodological variability between studies.
    PMID: 26120361  [PubMed]
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  • 4) J Autism Dev Disord. 2015 Jun 28. [Epub ahead of print]

    Autism Symptoms Across Adulthood in Men with Fragile X Syndrome: A Cross-Sectional Analysis.

    Hartley SL(1), Wheeler AC, Mailick MR, Raspa M, Mihaila I, Bishop E, Bailey DB.
    Author information: 
    (1)Human Development and Family Studies and Waisman Center, University of
    Wisconsin-Madison, 1500 Highland Ave., Madison, WI, 53705, USA,
    A cross-sectional analysis was used to examine age-related differences in ASD
    symptoms and corresponding differences in disruptive behavior and social skills
    in 281 adult men with fragile X syndrome. Four age groups were created: 18-21,
    22-29, 30-39, and 40-49 years. The 18-21 year-old group was reported to have more
    impairments in verbal communication than the 22-29 year-old group and more
    restricted and repetitive behaviors than the 40-49 year-old group. There was not 
    an age-group difference in the percentage of men who met criteria for an ASD
    diagnosis based on respondent-reported, current symptoms. There was a trend for
    an age-related difference in disruptive behavior. Findings add to understanding
    of the developmental trajectory of ASD symptoms in adulthood.
    PMID: 26123010  [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
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  • 5) J Autism Dev Disord. 2015 Jun 28. [Epub ahead of print]

    The New DSM-5 Impairment Criterion: A Challenge to Early Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosis?

    Zander E(1), Bölte S.
    Author information: 
    (1)Pediatric Neuropsychiatry Unit, Department of Children's and Women's Health,
    Center of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (KIND), Karolinska Institutet, Gävlegatan 
    22B, 113 30, Stockholm, Sweden, eric.zander@ki.se.
    The possible effect of the DSM-5 impairment criterion on diagnosing autism
    spectrum disorder (ASD) in young children was examined in 127 children aged
    20-47 months with a DSM-IV-TR clinical consensus diagnosis of ASD. The composite 
    score of the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales (VABS) served as a proxy for the
    DSM-5 impairment criterion. When applying a mild level of impairment (cutoff: 1
    SD below the mean on the VABS), 88 % of the cases fulfilled the impairment
    criterion. Sixty-nine percent fulfilled the impairment criterion at a moderate
    level (1.5 SDs) and 33 % at a severe level (2 SDs). Findings indicate that a
    strict application of the new DSM-5 impairment criterion might compromise early
    diagnosis of ASD.
    PMID: 26123009  [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
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  • 6) J Autism Dev Disord. 2015 Jun 28. [Epub ahead of print]

    Preschoolers with Autism Spectrum Disorder Followed for 2 Years: Those Who Gained and Those Who Lost the Most in Terms of Adaptive Functioning Outcome.

    Hedvall Å(1), Westerlund J, Fernell E, Norrelgen F, Kjellmer L, Olsson MB,
    Carlsson LH, Eriksson MA, Billstedt E, Gillberg C.
    Author information: 
    (1)Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of
    Gothenburg, 411 19, Gothenburg, Sweden, asa.lundholm-hedvall@gnc.gu.se.
    Clinical predictors of 2-year outcome in preschoolers with ASD were studied in a 
    population-based group of very young children with ASD (n = 208). Children who
    gained the most (n = 30) and lost the most (n = 23), i.e., increased or decreased
    their adaptive functioning outcome according to the Vineland Composite Score
    between study entry (T1) and follow-up (T2), 2 years later were compared.
    Individual factors that differed significantly between the two outcome groups
    were cognitive level, age at referral, not passing expected milestones at
    18 months, autistic type behavior problems and regression. However, logistic
    regression analysis showed that only cognitive level at T1 (dichotomized into
    IQ < 70 and IQ ≥ 70) made a unique statistically significant contribution to
    outcome prediction (p = <.001) with an odds ratio of 18.01. The findings have
    significant clinical implications in terms of information at diagnosis regarding 
    clinical prognosis in ASD.
    PMID: 26123008  [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
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  • 7) Autism. 2015 Jun 29. pii: 1362361315592378. [Epub ahead of print]

    Estimation of the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder in South Korea, revisited.

    Pantelis PC(1), Kennedy DP(2).
    Author information: 
    (1)Indiana University, USA pcpantel@indiana.edu. (2)Indiana University, USA.
    Two-phase designs in epidemiological studies of autism prevalence introduce
    methodological complications that can severely limit the precision of resulting
    estimates. If the assumptions used to derive the prevalence estimate are invalid 
    or if the uncertainty surrounding these assumptions is not properly accounted for
    in the statistical inference procedure, then the point estimate may be inaccurate
    and the confidence interval may not be a true reflection of the precision of the 
    estimate. We examine these potential pitfalls in the context of a recent
    high-profile finding by Kim et al. (2011, Prevalence of autism spectrum disorders
    in a total population sample. American Journal of Psychiatry 168: 904-912), who
    estimated that autism spectrum disorder affects 2.64% of children in a South
    Korean community. We reconstructed the study's methodology and used Monte Carlo
    simulations to analyze whether their point estimate and 95% confidence interval
    (1.91%, 3.37%) were reasonable, given what was known about their screening
    instrument and sample. We find the original point estimate to be highly
    assumption-dependent, and after accounting for sources of uncertainty unaccounted
    for in the original article, we demonstrate that a more reasonable confidence
    interval would be approximately twice as large as originally reported. We argue
    that future studies should give serious consideration to the additional sources
    of uncertainty introduced by a two-phase design, which may easily outstrip any
    expected gains in efficiency.
    © The Author(s) 2015.
    PMID: 26122467  [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
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  • 8) J Comp Neurol. 2015 Jul 1. doi: 10.1002/cne.23842. [Epub ahead of print]

    Differential Effects of Social and Physical Environmental Enrichment on Brain Plasticity, Cognition, and Ultrasonic Communication In Rats.

    Brenes JC(1,)(2,)(3), Lackinger M(4), Höglinger GU(5), Schratt G(4), Schwarting
    RK(1), Wöhr M(1).
    Author information: 
    (1)Behavioral Neuroscience, Experimental and Biological Psychology,
    Philipps-University of Marburg, Gutenbergstr. 18, 35032, Marburg, Germany.
    (2)Institute for Psychological Research, University of Costa Rica, Rodrigo Facio 
    Campus, 2060 San Pedro, Costa Rica. (3)Neuroscience Research Center, University
    of Costa Rica, Rodrigo Facio Campus, 2060 San Pedro, Costa Rica. (4)Biochemical
    and Pharmacological Center, Institute of Physiological Chemistry,
    Philipps-University of Marburg, Karl-von-Frisch-Str. 1, 35032, Marburg, Germany. 
    (5)Technical University München & German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases
    (DZNE) München, Department for Translational Neurodegeneration, Max-Lebsche-Platz
    30, 81377, München, Germany.
    Environmental enrichment (EE) exerts beneficial effects on brain plasticity,
    cognition, and anxiety/depression, leading to a brain that can counteract
    deficits underlying various brain disorders. Since the complexity of EE commonly 
    used makes it difficult to identify causal aspects, we examined possible factors 
    using a 2x2 design with social EE (2 vs. 6 rats) and physical EE (physically
    enriched vs. non-enriched). For the first time, we demonstrate that social and
    physical EE have differential effects on brain plasticity, cognition, and
    ultrasonic communication. Expectedly, physical EE promoted neurogenesis in the
    dentate gyrus of the hippocampal formation, but not in the subventricular zone,
    and, as a novel finding, affected microRNA expression levels, with the
    activity-dependent miR-124 and miR-132 being upregulated. Concomitant
    improvements in cognition were observed, yet social deficits were seen in the
    emission of pro-social 50-kHz ultrasonic vocalizations (USV) and paralleled by a 
    lack of social approach in response to them, consistent with the intense world
    syndrome/theory of autism. In contrast, social EE had only minor effects on brain
    plasticity and cognition, but led to increased pro-social 50-kHz USV emission
    rates and enhanced social approach behavior. Importantly, social deficits
    following physical EE were prevented by additional social EE. The finding that
    social EE has positive while physical EE has negative effects on social behavior 
    indicates that preclinical studies focusing on EE as potential treatment in
    models for neuropsychiatric disorders characterized by social deficits, such as
    autism, should include social EE in addition to physical EE, since its lack might
    worsen social deficits. This article is protected by copyright. All rights
    © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    PMID: 26132842  [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
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  • 9) Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2015 Jun 29. pii: 0009922815592607. [Epub ahead of print]

    Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children Referred for Diagnostic Autism Evaluation.

    Monteiro SA(1), Spinks-Franklin A(2), Treadwell-Deering D(2), Berry L(2),
    Sellers-Vinson S(2), Smith E(2), Proud M(2), Voigt RG(2).
    Author information: 
    (1)Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA samontei@texaschildrens.org.
    (2)Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA.
    Increased public awareness of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and routine
    screening in primary care have contributed to increased requests for diagnostic
    ASD evaluations. However, given the scarcity of subspecialty autism diagnostic
    resources, overreferral of children suspected of having ASD may be contributing
    to long waiting lists at tertiary care autism centers and delaying diagnosis for 
    those children who truly have ASD. To determine whether children are being
    excessively referred to ASD-specific diagnostic clinics, our objective was to
    determine the prevalence of true ASD diagnoses in children referred for
    diagnostic ASD evaluation. Charts of all patients referred to a regional autism
    center between April 2011 and August 2012 for suspicion of a possible ASD were
    retrospectively reviewed and demographic and clinical diagnoses abstracted. Only 
    214 of 348 patients evaluated (61%) received an ASD diagnosis. Thus, concerns
    about autism are not confirmed by an ASD diagnosis in a significant number of
    © The Author(s) 2015.
    PMID: 26130396  [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
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  • 10) BMC Psychiatry. 2015 Jul 1;15:138. doi: 10.1186/s12888-015-0522-x.

    The effect of the video game Mindlight on anxiety symptoms in children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

    Wijnhoven LA(1,)(2), Creemers DH(3,)(4), Engels RC(5,)(6), Granic I(7).
    Author information: 
    (1)Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, P.O. Box 9104,
    6500 HE, Nijmegen, The Netherlands. l.wijnhoven@pwo.ru.nl. (2)GGZ Oost-Brabant,
    P.O. Box 3, 5427 ZG, Boekel, The Netherlands. l.wijnhoven@pwo.ru.nl.
    (3)Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, P.O. Box 9104,
    6500 HE, Nijmegen, The Netherlands. d.creemers@ggzoostbrabant.nl. (4)GGZ
    Oost-Brabant, P.O. Box 3, 5427 ZG, Boekel, The Netherlands.
    d.creemers@ggzoostbrabant.nl. (5)Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud
    University Nijmegen, P.O. Box 9104, 6500 HE, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
    rengels@trimbos.nl. (6)Trimbos Institute, Da Costakade 45, 3521 VS, Utrecht, The 
    Netherlands. rengels@trimbos.nl. (7)Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud
    University Nijmegen, P.O. Box 9104, 6500 HE, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
    BACKGROUND: In the clinical setting, a large proportion of children with an
    autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience anxiety symptoms. Because anxiety is an
    important cause of impairment for children with an ASD, it is necessary that
    effective anxiety interventions are implemented for these children. Recently, a
    serious game called Mindlight has been developed that is focused on decreasing
    anxiety in children. This approach is based on recent research suggesting that
    video games might be suitable as an intervention vehicle to enhance mental health
    in children. In the present study it will be investigated whether Mindlight is
    effective in decreasing (sub) clinical anxiety symptoms in children who are
    diagnosed with an ASD.
    METHODS/DESIGN: The present study involves a randomized controlled trial (RCT)
    with two conditions (experimental versus control), in which it is investigated
    whether Mindlight is effective in decreasing (sub) clinical anxiety symptoms in
    children with an ASD. For this study, children of 8-16 years old with a diagnosis
    of an ASD and (sub) clinical anxiety symptoms will be randomly assigned to the
    experimental (N = 60) or the control (N = 60) condition. Children in the
    experimental condition will play Mindlight for one hour per week, for six
    consecutive weeks. Children in the control condition will play the puzzle game
    Triple Town, also for one hour per week and for six consecutive weeks. All
    children will complete assessments at baseline, post-intervention and 3-months
    follow-up. Furthermore, parents and teachers will also complete assessments at
    the same time points. The primary outcome will be child report of anxiety
    symptoms. Secondary outcomes will be parent report of child anxiety, child/parent
    report of depressive symptoms, and parent/teacher report of social functioning
    and behavior problems.
    DISCUSSION: This paper aims to describe a study that will examine the effect of
    the serious game Mindlight on (sub) clinical anxiety symptoms of children with an
    ASD in the age of 8-16 years old. It is expected that children in the
    experimental condition will show lower levels of anxiety symptoms at 3-months
    follow-up, compared to children in the control condition. If Mindlight turns out 
    to be effective, it could be an important contribution to the already existing
    interventions for anxiety in children with an ASD. Mindlight could then be
    implemented as an evidence-based treatment for anxiety symptoms in children with 
    an ASD in mental health institutes and special education schools.
    TRIAL REGISTRATION: Dutch Trial Register NTR5069 . Registered 20 April 2015.
    PMID: 26129831  [PubMed - in process]
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  • 11) Behav Brain Res. 2015 Jun 29. pii: S0166-4328(15)30035-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2015.06.006. [Epub ahead of print]

    Indifference of marmosets with prenatal valproate exposure to third-party non-reciprocal interactions with otherwise avoided non-reciprocal individuals.

    Yasue M(1), Nakagami A(1), Banno T(2), Nakagaki K(2), Ichinohe N(3), Kawai N(1).
    Author information: 
    (1)Graduate School of Information Science, Nagoya University, Japan; Department
    of Ultrastructural Research, National Institute of Neuroscience, National Center 
    of Neurology and Psychiatry (NCNP), Japan. (2)Department of Ultrastructural
    Research, National Institute of Neuroscience, National Center of Neurology and
    Psychiatry (NCNP), Japan. (3)Department of Ultrastructural Research, National
    Institute of Neuroscience, National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry (NCNP),
    Japan; Ichinohe Neural System Group, Lab for Molecular Analysis of Higher Brain
    Functions RIKEN BSI, Japan.
    Autism is characterized by deficits in social interaction and social recognition.
    Although animal models of autism have demonstrated that model animals engage less
    in social interaction or attend less to conspecifics than control animals, no
    animal model has yet replicated the deficit in recognition of complex social
    interaction as is seen in humans with autism. Here, we show that marmosets
    discriminated between human actors who reciprocated in social exchanges and those
    who did not; however, marmosets with foetal exposure to valproic acid (VPA
    marmosets) did not. In the reciprocal condition, two actors exchanged food
    equally, while in the non-reciprocal condition, one actor (non-reciprocator)
    ended up with all food and the other actor with none. After observing these
    exchanges, the control marmosets avoided receiving food from the non-reciprocator
    in the non-reciprocal condition. However, the VPA marmosets did not show
    differential preferences in either condition, suggesting that the VPA marmosets
    did not discriminate between reciprocal and non-reciprocal interactions. These
    results indicate that normal marmosets can evaluate social interaction between
    third-parties, while the VPA marmosets are unable to recognize whether an
    individual is being reciprocal or not. This test battery can serve as a useful
    tool to qualify primate models of autism.
    Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier B.V.
    PMID: 26133500  [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
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