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The Brain

Charting the structure and function of the brain’s many circuits may unravel autism’s mysteries.

News / Toolbox
Green galaxy: Star-shaped cells called astrocytes glow in the brains of a new strain of mice.

Mice may illuminate workings of star-shaped brain cells

by  /  20 January 2017
Two new strains of mice allow researchers to monitor and manipulate brain cells called astrocytes.
News
Tour guide: A protein associated with autism (red) escorts RNA molecules across developing brain cells.

In immature brain cells, RNAs hitch ride with fragile X protein

by  /  18 January 2017
A clue to the origins of autism may exist among the molecules that transport RNA in the developing brain.
Opinion / Q&A
Illustration by Pep Boatella

Questions for Pua, Seal: What’s wrong with brain imaging work?

by  /  17 January 2017
Despite the completion of hundreds of imaging studies in people with autism, researchers have yet to find features that distinguish people with the condition.
January 2017
Moving target: Brain waves known as beta oscillations reflect brain activity that controls body movements and may signal telltale changes in DNA.AJPhoto / Science Source
News

Brain-wave patterns distinguish dup15q syndrome

by  /  13 January 2017

Children with an extra copy of the 15q11-13 chromosomal region, the second most common genetic abnormality in people with autism, have unusually strong brain waves called beta oscillations. The preliminary findings, presented Friday at the Dup15q Alliance Scientific Meeting in Orlando, Florida, suggest that beta oscillations could distinguish children with dup15q syndrome from those with other forms of autism.

1 Comment
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.

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Features / Deep Dive

The curious connection between autism and cancer

by  /  11 January 2017

A surprising number of genes associated with autism also have links to cancer. Does that mean cancer drugs can treat autism?

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Seeing spots: The brain responds differently to animations of dots moving in random patterns (right) compared with ones that resemble a person moving (left).
News

Brain scans may forecast effectiveness of autism treatment

by  /  9 January 2017

Patterns of activity in certain brain regions may predict how well a child with autism will respond to a behavioral therapy.

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Yarek Waszul / ispot
Opinion / Q&A

Questions for Daphna Joel: Brain sex differences may be mirage

by  /  3 January 2017

Instead of simply listing sex differences in the brain, researchers should consider how sex interacts with other factors to affect the brain, Joel says.

1 Comment
December 2016
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Features / Special Reports / 2016: Year in review

Spectrum of color: Our favorite photos from 2016

26 December 2016

Peruse our picks for the best science photos published on Spectrum this year.

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Illustration by Julia Yellow
Features / Special Reports / 2016: Year in review

Notable papers of 2016

26 December 2016

Our picks for the top 10 papers of the year highlight leaps in our understanding of autism, as well as lingering gaps.

1 Comment
Inside look: A custom laser supplies wide-angle shots of neurons in mice.
News / Toolbox

Pulsing laser lights up networks of neurons in moving mice

by  /  23 December 2016

A new method allows researchers to watch thousands of neurons firing in concert in the brains of living mice.

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Easy listening:  A flexible device (below) hugs the brain's curved surface and detects neuronal activity (left).
News / Toolbox

Supple sensor picks up neuron chatter in human brain

by  /  16 December 2016

A flexible electrode array can eavesdrop on neurons in people without damaging brain tissue.

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Illustration by Jasu Hu
Opinion / Q&A

Questions for Joshua Gordon: Circuit solutions for autism

by  /  13 December 2016

The new director of the National Institute of Mental Health says work on brain circuits may yield treatments for autism.

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