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Sciencedaily.com: 26 novel genes linked to intellectual disability

Researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and Queen’s University have identified 26 new genes linked to intellectual disability. Currently most patients with intellectual disability receive no molecular diagnosis, which significantly affects their health and shortens their lifespan.

The study, published online in Molecular Psychiatry, has implications for the diagnosis and clinical care of those affected, and also adds to our growing knowledge of brain development and functioning. It may eventually lead

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Sciencedaily.com: Diagnosed autism linked to maternal grandmother's smoking in pregnancy

Scientists from the University of Bristol have looked at all 14,500 participants in Children of the 90s and found that if a girl’s maternal grandmother smoked during pregnancy, the girl is 67% more likely to display certain traits linked to autism, such as poor social communication skills and repetitive behaviours.

The team also found that if the maternal grandmother smoked, this increased by 53% the risk of her grandchildren having a diagnosed autism spectrum disorder

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Sciencedaily.com: Facial expressions: How brains process emotion

Have you ever thought someone was angry at you, but it turned out you were just misreading their facial expression? Caltech researchers have now discovered that one specific region of the brain, called the amygdala, is involved in making these (sometimes inaccurate) judgments about ambiguous or intense emotions. Identifying the amygdala’s role in social cognition suggests insights into the neurological mechanisms behind autism and anxiety.

The research was done in the laboratories of Ralph Adolphs,

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Sciencedaily.com: Imbalances in neural pathways may contribute to repetitive behaviors in autism

Genetic studies have linked a number of risk genes to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Although the complex genetics underlying ASD likely involve interactions between many genes, some risk genes are singular drivers of autism-like behaviors in rodent models, particularly genes that guide synaptic development and function.

One such ASD-associated gene encodes SHANK3, a scaffolding protein that organizes neurotransmitter receptors and their intracellular effectors in neuronal synapses. SHANK3-deficient display repetitive grooming behavior as well as social

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Sciencedaily.com: Paternal age at conception may influence social development in offspring

The age of the father at the time his children are born may influence their social development, suggests a study published in the May 2017 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP). Analyzing social behaviors of children from early childhood until adolescence, researchers found that those whose father was either very young or older at conception differed in how they acquired social skills. These findings may offer insights

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Sciencedaily.com: How shifts in excitation-inhibition balance may lead to psychiatric disorders

In a special issue of Biological Psychiatry titled “Cortical Excitation-Inhibition Balance and Dysfunction in Psychiatric Disorders,” guest editors Dr. Alan Anticevic and Dr. John Murray, both of Yale University, bring together seven reviews that highlight advancements in understanding the balance of excitatory and inhibitory signaling in the brain, and what might happen when it goes awry.

Alterations in excitation/inhibition (E/I) balance constitute an emerging theme in clinical neuroscience, wrote Anticevic and Dr. John Lisman of

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Sciencedaily.com: Speech and language deficits in children with autism may not cause tantrums

Speech or language impairments may not be the cause of more frequent tantrums in children with autism, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers. The findings could help parents of children with autism seek out the best treatment for behavior problems.

Children with autism experience more tantrums than children without, according to the researchers, and speech therapists, preschool teachers, parents and others often blame these frequent outbursts on speech and language problems. Some children

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Sciencedaily.com: Tracking devices may improve quality of life for parents of children with autism

Many children with Autism Spectrum Disorder face increased risk of injury when they wander away from adults who care for them. Even when parents take safety precautions such as installing window bars at home, studies show parents’ fear of their children wandering is a significant source of stress for families. New research being presented at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting suggests that electronic tracking devices worn by children may reduce how often children wander

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Sciencedaily.com: First clear-cut risk genes for Tourette disorder revealed

Tourette disorder (also known as Tourette syndrome) afflicts as many as one person in a hundred worldwide with potentially disabling symptoms including involuntary motor and vocal tics. However, researchers have so far failed to determine the cause of the disorder, and treatments have only limited effectiveness, in part because the genetics underlying the disorder have remained largely a mystery.

Now, as reported online May 3, 2017 in Neuron, a consortium of top researchers — led

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Sciencedaily.com: How Fragile X syndrome disrupts perception

In normal brains, 20% of neurons are inhibitory, meaning that they send signals that limit communication between other neurons to make sure that signals exchanged within the brain are finely tuned and confined to specific areas, depending on what the person or animal is doing or perceiving. Fragile X syndrome, which is caused by a fault on the X chromosome, leads to defects in how brain neurons communicate with each other. In this study, scientists

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Sciencedaily.com: Surprise communication found between brain regions involved in infant motor control

A newborn’s brain is abuzz with activity.

Day and night, it’s processing signals from all over the body, from recognizing the wriggles of the child’s own fingers and toes to the sound of mommy’s or daddy’s voice.

Though much of how the infant brain works and develops remains a mystery, University of Iowa researchers say they have uncovered a new mode of communication between two relatively distant regions. And, it turns out that sleep is

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Sciencedaily.com: New genetic roots for intelligence discovered

Intelligence is one of the most investigated traits in humans and higher intelligence is associated with important economic and health-related life outcomes. Despite high heritability estimates of 45% in childhood and 80% in adulthood, only a handful of genes had previously been associated with intelligence and for most of these genes the findings were not reliable. The study, published in the journal Nature Genetics, uncovered 52 genes for intelligence, of which 40 were completely new

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Sciencedaily.com: Diabetes drug may help symptoms of autism-associated condition

Metformin, the most widely used drug to treat type 2 diabetes, could potentially be used to treat symptoms of Fragile X syndrome, an inherited form of intellectual disability and a cause of some forms of autism.

A new study led by researchers at McGill University, the University of Edinburgh and Université de Montréal has found that metformin improves social, behavioural and morphological defects in Fragile X mice.

Fragile X syndrome is a genetic disease caused

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Sciencedaily.com: Oxytocin administered to the nose increases emotion perception in autism

A recent study has demonstrated that intranasal oxytocin can influence how individuals with autism perceive emotion in others. This is an important first step for a potential pharmacological treatment of autism.

Autism is characterized by difficulties in social functioning. Individuals with autism are generally less sensitive to social information, which can influence their interactions with others as they may overlook social cues. Research has shown that the neuropeptide oxytocin, known to be involved in childbirth

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Sciencedaily.com: Neurons can learn temporal patterns

Individual neurons can learn not only single responses to a particular signal, but also a series of reactions at precisely timed intervals. This is what emerges from a study at Lund University in Sweden.

“It is like striking a piano key with a finger not just once, but as a programmed series of several keystrokes,” says neurophysiology researcher Germund Hesslow.

The work constitutes basic research, but has a bearing on the development of neural networks

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Sciencedaily.com: Rates of suicide 'worrying' among people with autism, say experts

Suicide rates among people with autism in England have reached “worryingly” high levels, according to experts writing in the Lancet Psychiatry.

Writing ahead of a world-first international summit on suicidality in autism, the researchers — from Coventry and Newcastle universities — say the issue remains poorly understood and that action is urgently needed to help those most at risk.

Dr Sarah Cassidy from Coventry University cites a clinical study she led in 2014 — also

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Sciencedaily.com: Researchers closer to cracking neural code of love

A team of neuroscientists from Emory University’s Silvio O. Conte Center for Oxytocin and Social Cognition has discovered a key connection between areas of the adult female prairie vole’s brain reward system that promotes the emergence of pair bonds. Results from this study, could help efforts to improve social abilities in human disorders with impaired social function, such as autism. In addition to the online posting, the study is expected to be in the June

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Sciencedaily.com: Health care process a roadblock for adolescents with autism and their caregivers

For most people, trips to the doctor can be quite scary. For adolescents and young adults with autism, taking control of health care decisions is not only frightening, it also can be a barrier to independence. Now researchers from the University of Missouri have found that the health care process not only impacts adolescents with autism, but caregivers also feel they lack the skills and support necessary to help those adolescents achieve health-related independence. As

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