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.

May 2016
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Opinion / Q&A

Questions for Elizabeth Berry-Kravis: Dodging mouse traps

by  /  24 May 2016

A mouse model of fragile X syndrome lacks a key feature of the condition, prompting researchers to look for other ways to test treatments.

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Social activity: The brains of typical boys (left), but not boys with autism (right), show a boost in activity (blue) in the social brain when they see socially relevant information.
News

Brain signature characterizes boys with autism

by  /  19 May 2016

Activity in the social brain circuit can distinguish a boy who has autism from a typically developing boy with 76 percent accuracy.

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Color conundrum: Black and Hispanic children are less likely to get an autism diagnosis than are white children. ©iSTock.com / Christopher Futcher
News

Disparities in autism diagnosis may harm minority groups

by  /  14 May 2016

Clinicians are underdiagnosing autism in children from low-income families and minority groups — setting back their potential to benefit from therapy.

1 Comment
Planning ahead: People with autism may feel anxious about situations they cannot control.


© shutterstock.com / Apichat Thongcharoen
News

Uncertainty, anxiety each independently linked to autism

by  /  14 May 2016

Children with autism fear the unknown and react negatively when faced with unpredictable situations. This intolerance of uncertainty is closely tied to anxiety but may manifest independently.

1 Comment
Social equals: Mice that carry a mutation in the autism gene CHD8 appear to be just as social as controls. 


© shutterstock.com / Emilia Stasiak
News

Mouse with key autism mutation defies expectations

by  /  14 May 2016

Mice with a mutation in CHD8, the top autism gene, show no signs of any of the condition’s core features.

1 Comment
Shaky ground:  Caracas is one of the most dangerous cities in the world, making autism research a risky proposition.


© shutterstock.com / Zdorov Kirill Vladimirovich
News

Venezuelan scientist offers reality check for autism research

by  /  13 May 2016

The best practices for prevalence studies are all but impossible in countries facing rampant poverty and instability.

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Autism connection: Every person known to have a mutation in CHD8 shows some problems with social skills.


© shutterstock.com / Air Images
News

Top autism gene has outsized effect on social skills

by  /  13 May 2016

Harmful mutations in CHD8, a gene strongly linked to autism, may have more impact on social skills than do other autism-associated mutations.

1 Comment
Sound sensing: Instead of shutting down, a visual brain region becomes more active in people with autism when they hear a tone.
©iStock.com / Imgorthand
News

Sight may mix with sound in autism brains

by  /  13 May 2016

People with autism may use visual areas of the brain to process sounds, which could help explain why they have trouble with this task.

5 Comments
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Opinion / Cross Talk

How to successfully recruit participants for autism studies

by  /  12 May 2016

Many families don’t have the time or motivation to participate in research. So how can scientists recruit them?

2 Comments
Weak points: A select set of neuronal genes (yellow) turn out to be especially vulnerable to breaking.
News

Long autism genes may fracture when cells divide

by  /  9 May 2016

Many of the genes implicated in autism are unusually long — a feature that leaves them susceptible to breaking during cell division.

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