Emerging tools and techniques that may advance autism research.

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December 2015
Branching maps: By tracing the physical outlines of neurons and measuring how they connect, researchers have built a detailed atlas of brain connectivity in mice.
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New atlas displays meticulous maps of brain connectivity

by  /  23 December 2015

Researchers have documented the shape and electrical activity of more than 2,000 neurons in the mouse brain, and charted the connections between them.

Bright idea: Beams of light can temporarily shut down specific receptors for chemical messages in the brains of mice. © / ktsimage
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Molecular switch lets light shut off subsets of brain signals

by  /  16 December 2015

A tool kit of light-sensitive proteins allows researchers to mute communication between specific sets of neurons in mice.

Intricate inspection: A new method detects slight differences between copies of the same region of DNA.© iStock / BlackJack3D
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Method marks variants among repeated DNA segments

by  /  9 December 2015

A new tool trawls sequencing data to reveal single-letter DNA swaps within large duplications.

Gender balance: More than one-quarter of children in the Autism Inpatient Collection are girls. 
© / JynMeyerDesign
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New database holds clues to severe end of autism spectrum

by  /  2 December 2015

A new collection stores genetic and behavioral information about children with autism in inpatient psychiatric units.

November 2015
Fast fluorescence:  A neuron in the brain of an awake mouse emits a glow as it fires.
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Sensitive, superfast sensor detects brain activity in real time

by  /  25 November 2015

A new tool marries an unusually bright fluorescent protein to a light-sensitive pigment to illuminate individual neurons as they fire.

Branching out:  A retinal neuron (blue) connects with many neighboring neurons, with proteins at these connections glowing magenta and green.
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Microscopy technique homes in on links between neurons

by  /  18 November 2015

A powerful form of light microscopy that maps neuronal connections could help researchers better understand communication among the cells.

Motion hub:  Neurons expressing luminopsins glow green inside the rat basal ganglia, a brain region that controls motion
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Glowing proteins may replace probes for controlling neurons

by  /  11 November 2015

A new method uses luminescent proteins to switch neurons on or off in the brains of freely moving rats.

Documenting differences: Two big genome projects pinpoint pockets of genetic heterogeneity in the general population and in people with specific disorders. ©
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Long-awaited databases reveal breadth of genetic variation

by  /  4 November 2015

Two massive efforts to sequence the DNA of more than 11,000 people together provide the most detailed picture yet of genetic variation in the general population.

October 2015
Glimpsing glutamate: Four people with drug-resistant epilepsy have elevated levels of glutamate (red) in the right (top) or left (bottom) hippocampus.
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Imaging technique reveals elusive epileptic lesions

by  /  28 October 2015

A method that maps signaling molecules in the brain may help researchers home in on areas where seizures originate.

Irritated fish: Neuronal activity in fish exposed to unpleasant stimuli increases in some brain regions (green) while decreasing in others (purple).
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New method highlights activity in zebrafish brains

by  /  14 October 2015

A new technique gives researchers a window into the constellation of neurons that fire as zebrafish larvae swim in a dish.


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