Author

Sarah DeWeerdt

Contributing Writer, Spectrum

Sarah DeWeerdt is a Seattle-based freelance science writer specializing in biology, medicine and the environment. Her work has appeared in publications including Nature, Newsweek, Conservation and Nautilus. She has been a regular contributor to Spectrum since 2010, writing conference reports, news and Deep Dive articles.

December 2016
Illustration by Leandro Castelao
News

Toddlers with autism indifferent to eye contact, study says

by  /  15 December 2016

Toddlers with autism are oblivious to the social information in the eyes, but don’t actively avoid meeting another person’s gaze.

16 Comments
Picking pairs: People with autism are up to 11 times more likely than their typical peers to choose a partner on the spectrum.Henrik Sorensen / Getty Images
News

Partner preferences may contribute to autism prevalence

by  /  5 December 2016

People with autism tend to partner with others on the spectrum, which may raise the condition’s prevalence within families and across the population.

2 Comments
November 2016
Immune index: A combination of genetic susceptibility and exposure to mock infection may increase autism risk.Russell Kightley / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
News

Genes, immune exposure collude to up autism risk

by  /  17 November 2016

The interplay between a mouse’s immune system and certain mutations in her pups may increase autism-like features in the pups.

0 Comments
Dynamic duo: Autism may interrupt the back-and-forth that builds emotional connections between a mother and her child.Monashee Alonso / Getty Images
News

New test scores emotional weight of parent-child connections

by  /  17 November 2016

Videos of mothers and their infants interacting with each other may contain clues to autism risk.

6 Comments
Power play: Infant siblings of children with autism are often fascinated with sensory toys.Stefan Kunz / Getty Images
News

Sensory abnormalities highlight early autism risk

by  /  16 November 2016

Sensory abnormalities could be among the first signs of autism risk — and a target for early treatment.

1 Comment
Monkey muddle: Wireless microphones are helping scientists sort out the calls of different monkeys in a cage.
News

Monkey mics may solve communication mysteries

by  /  16 November 2016

Tiny monkeys sporting even tinier backpacks are helping scientists understand the nuances of language and social behavior.

0 Comments
Sniff test: Rats given oxytocin can better remember other rats even a week after stopping the drug.
News

Rodent studies test oxytocin’s translational mettle

by  /  15 November 2016

Researchers are grappling with the complexities of transforming oxytocin into a drug for use in the clinic.

0 Comments
Silent scan: Few brain imaging studies include nonverbal or minimally verbal people with autism.

© Thomas Schultz / Wikimedia Commons
News

Imaging study hints at compensation in verbal teens with autism

by  /  14 November 2016

Adolescents with autism who have good verbal skills show enhanced structural connections in brain regions involved in processing and integrating sounds.

0 Comments
Social shift: Typical children show a strong brain response to direct gaze, whereas those with autism respond more to averted eyes.Carol Yepes / Getty Images
News

Interactive test aims to capture social aspects of gaze

by  /  14 November 2016

People with autism show atypical patterns of gaze even when they are explicitly asked to look at another person’s eyes.

0 Comments
Palace keep: The amount of time a young child spends in a play castle may provide hints about her social motivation.
News

Toddler palace may house clues to social skills in autism

by  /  13 November 2016

A half-hour-long ‘playdate’ between a toddler and an adult could help answer a long-standing question about the social deficits that accompany autism.

3 Comments
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