Author

Jessica Wright

Senior News Writer, Spectrum

Jessica Wright writes for Spectrum and reports on breaking autism research from conferences around the world. She joined Spectrum in 2010.

Jessica covers all aspects of autism research, but her primary beat is genetics. She has firsthand experience with whole-genome sequencing from her postdoc at Rockefeller University. Her writing has also appeared in Nature and Scientific American.

Jessica has a Ph.D. in biological sciences from Stanford University.

February 2017
Treat pursuit: Rats with a mutation in the SHANK2 gene press a lever for a reward about a hundred times more than controls before giving up.Dmitry Maslov / Getty Images
News

Rats with mutant SHANK genes show autism-like behaviors

by  /  16 February 2017

Researchers have engineered two new rats with mutations in a family of genes that function at neuronal junctions, they reported today at the 2014 International Meeting for Autism Research in Atlanta.

0 Comments
Data visualization by Infomen
News

International effort expands list of genes tied to autism

by  /  15 February 2017

A massive sequencing study spanning seven countries links 38 new genes to autism and developmental delay.

2 Comments
Early days: Parents are best suited to spot signs of autism in infants, such as whether the baby babbles in response to others.  Insung Jeon / Getty Images
News

Survey for parents could flag autism in infants

by  /  13 February 2017

Asking parents to fill out a questionnaire about their babies’ early skills could help clinicians spot signs of autism.

0 Comments
Illustration by Nigel Hawtin
News

Distinct mutations in sodium channel trigger autism, epilepsy

by  /  8 February 2017

Some mutations in a gene called SCN2A make neurons less excitable and are linked to autism; others have the opposite effect and may cause seizures during infancy.

0 Comments
Illustration by Sam Chivers
Opinion / Q&A

Questions for Daniel Geschwind: Making autism studies diverse

by  /  7 February 2017

A team of researchers is stepping out of the lab and into the community to recruit African-Americans for studies on the genetics of autism.

0 Comments
January 2017
Brain boost: A virus that delivers pieces of RNA (green) to cells boosts expression of the FOXG1 gene (red) in a mouse brain.
News

New approach may treat autism by dialing up genes

by  /  26 January 2017

Injecting tiny pieces of RNA into the brain may someday serve as a therapy for certain forms of autism.

0 Comments
Illustration by Masha Manapov
News

New method aims to quantify ‘camouflaging’ in autism

by  /  19 January 2017

A combination of multiple diagnostic tests may gauge the extent to which adults with autism attempt to blend in.

7 Comments
Chemical clues: Tags on proteins called histones (burgundy) that scaffold DNA (violet) may help researchers find an autism signature.
News

Autism brains bear telltale pattern of chemical tags

by  /  12 January 2017

The brains of many people with autism may exhibit a characteristic arrangement of chemical groups on the proteins that DNA coils around.

0 Comments
Brain barrier: A mutation linked to autism prevents essential amino acids from entering the brain.
News

Rare form of autism linked to lack of key nutrient

by  /  5 January 2017

A mutation that prevents some amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, from entering the brain may lead to autism.

1 Comment
December 2016
Illustrations by Bee Johnson
Features / Special Reports / 2016: Year in review

From temperature to toys, strange stimuli skew rodent results

26 December 2016

Interpreting mouse and rat behavior is tricky because of the hidden factors that can influence experiments.

0 Comments
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