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Autism (sometimes called “classical autism”) is the most common condition in a group of developmental disorders known as the autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Autism is characterized by impaired social interaction, problems with verbal and nonverbal communication, and unusual, repetitive, or severely limited activities and interests. Other ASDs include Asperger syndrome, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (usually referred to as PDD-NOS). Experts estimate that three to six children out of every 1,000 will have autism. Males are four times more likely to have autism than females.
RDoC research initiative aims to help guide classification of patients in clinical studies

RDoC research initiative aims to help guide classification of patients in clinical studies

A new effort by the National Institutes of Health will facilitate communication among scientists, clinicians, and the public to reframe mental health research, from diagnosis to treatment. The Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) unit was recently established by the National Institute of Mental Health, part of NIH, to support the development of the institute's RDoC initiative. [More]
Two major studies newly implicate dozens of genes in autism

Two major studies newly implicate dozens of genes in autism

Two major genetic studies of autism, led in part by UC San Francisco scientists and involving more than 50 laboratories worldwide, have newly implicated dozens of genes in the disorder. The research shows that rare mutations in these genes affect communication networks in the brain and compromise fundamental biological mechanisms that govern whether, when, and how genes are activated overall. [More]
Genetic differences contribute to risk for autism

Genetic differences contribute to risk for autism

Small differences in as many as a thousand genes contribute to risk for autism, according to a study led by Mount Sinai researchers and the Autism Sequencing Consortium, and published today in the journal Nature. [More]
Researchers use DNA sequencing to uncover genes that heighten autism risk

Researchers use DNA sequencing to uncover genes that heighten autism risk

In the largest study of its kind to date, researchers have used DNA sequencing to uncover dozens of genes that heighten the risk for autism. Joseph Buxbaum, Ph.D., Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City, Mark Daly, Ph.D., Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, and their colleagues examined more than 14,000 DNA samples from affected children, parents and unrelated people. [More]
Research finds link between autism spectrum disorder and air toxics

Research finds link between autism spectrum disorder and air toxics

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) were more likely to have been exposed to higher levels of certain air toxics during their mothers' pregnancies and the first two years of life compared to children without the condition, according to the preliminary findings of a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health investigation of children in southwestern Pennsylvania. [More]
Autism Speaks grants $1M to Children's Hospital Los Angeles to improve GI symptoms associated with ASD

Autism Speaks grants $1M to Children's Hospital Los Angeles to improve GI symptoms associated with ASD

Pat Levitt, PhD, Simms/Mann Chair in Developmental Neurogenetics at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, has received a grant of nearly $1 million from Autism Speaks, the world's leading autism science and advocacy organization. [More]
Research: MHCI protein moonlights in nervous system to regulate synapses

Research: MHCI protein moonlights in nervous system to regulate synapses

When it comes to the brain, "more is better" seems like an obvious assumption. But in the case of synapses, which are the connections between brain cells, too many or too few can both disrupt brain function. [More]
State highlights: Calif. ballot measure updates; Va. prison health care budget shortfall

State highlights: Calif. ballot measure updates; Va. prison health care budget shortfall

A selection of health policy stories from California, Arizona, Maine, South Dakota, Virginia, Maryland, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Texas, Washington state and Missouri. [More]
Researchers receive NIH grant to study mechanisms of auditory hypersensitivity in fragile X syndrome

Researchers receive NIH grant to study mechanisms of auditory hypersensitivity in fragile X syndrome

Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is a genetic disorder in humans that causes social impairments and repetitive behaviors, and other behaviors on the autistic spectrum, as well as cognitive deficits. [More]
Genetic risk for ADHD contributes to language, attention deficits in general population

Genetic risk for ADHD contributes to language, attention deficits in general population

Are deficits in attention limited to those with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or is there a spectrum of attention function in the general population? [More]
UWM study supports the hypothesis that links autism to air pollutants

UWM study supports the hypothesis that links autism to air pollutants

A researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has added to a growing body of evidence that links autism to air pollutants such as those generated by cars and trucks. [More]
Research on zebrafish helps identify cause of unknown genetic disorder

Research on zebrafish helps identify cause of unknown genetic disorder

Research in zebrafish has helped identify the cause of an unknown genetic disorder affecting a boy and two of his uncles, scientists report in an article published October 14 in the journal GENETICS. [More]

University of Alicante develops tool for people with autism spectrum disorders

The University of Alicante has developed, together with centres in the UK, Spain and Bulgaria, a tool designed to assist people with autism spectrum disorders by adapting written documents into a format that is easier for them to read and understand. This is the main result of the three-year project FIRST (A Flexible Interactive Reading Support Tool), funded by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme. [More]
Carnegie Mellon and Pitt to recognize Mark Roth with 2014 Friend of the CNBC Award

Carnegie Mellon and Pitt to recognize Mark Roth with 2014 Friend of the CNBC Award

Mark Roth, an award-winning senior staff writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, will receive the 2014 Friend of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition Award from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. [More]
Broccoli sprout compound may help ease classic behavioral symptoms in people with autism

Broccoli sprout compound may help ease classic behavioral symptoms in people with autism

Results of a small clinical trial suggest that a chemical derived from broccoli sprouts — and best known for claims that it can help prevent certain cancers — may ease classic behavioral symptoms in those with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). [More]
UCLA's new collaborative research effort aims to support adolescents, young adults with autism

UCLA's new collaborative research effort aims to support adolescents, young adults with autism

UCLA, renowned for its leadership in research and treatment for individuals with autism, is launching a first-of-its-kind collaborative research effort to address the health, family and social needs of adolescents and young adults with autism, a group typically overlooked by health care and social services systems. [More]
‘Priming’ may improve schizophrenia patients’ social skills

‘Priming’ may improve schizophrenia patients’ social skills

Study findings suggest that social priming can increase the use of nonverbal social behaviours in patients with schizophrenia. [More]
Synthetic oil triheptanoin improves Rett syndrome, longevity

Synthetic oil triheptanoin improves Rett syndrome, longevity

When young mice with the rodent equivalent of a rare autism spectrum disorder (ASD), called Rett syndrome, were fed a diet supplemented with the synthetic oil triheptanoin, they lived longer than mice on regular diets. Importantly, their physical and behavioral symptoms were also less severe after being on the diet, according to results of new research from The Johns Hopkins University. [More]
New UCLA study reveals why people with autism experience neural stem cell overgrowth after birth

New UCLA study reveals why people with autism experience neural stem cell overgrowth after birth

People with autism spectrum disorder often experience a period of accelerated brain growth after birth. No one knows why, or whether the change is linked to any specific behavioral changes. [More]
Grand Challenges Canada announces 11 seed grants to improve mental health in developing countries

Grand Challenges Canada announces 11 seed grants to improve mental health in developing countries

On the day the world is collectively raising awareness on mental health issues, Grand Challenges Canada, funded by the Government of Canada, announced new funding for 11 novel ideas to improve mental health in developing countries, one of the biggest unmet needs of our time. Seed grants of up to $270,000 are awarded to 11 innovators from Canada and low- and middle-income countries, totalling $2.9 million CAD. [More]