Brain Development

Brain Scans Detect Autism's Signature

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
November 16, 2010
Abstract: 

An autism study by Yale School of Medicine researchers using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has identified a pattern of brain activity that may characterize the genetic vulnerability to developing autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The team identified three distinct "neural signatures": trait markers -- brain regions with reduced activity in children with ASD and their unaffected siblings; state markers -- brain areas with reduced activity found only in children with autism; and compensatory activity -- enhanced activity seen only in unaffected siblings. The enhanced brain activity may reflect a developmental process by which these children overcome a genetic predisposition to develop ASD.

Testing Autism Drugs in Human Brain Cells

Source: 
MIT Technology Review
Date Published: 
November 12, 2010
Abstract: 

A team from the University of California, San Diego, and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies devised a way to study brain cells from patients with autism, and found a way reverse cellular abnormalities in neurons that have been associated with autism, specifically Rett Syndrome.

How the Brain is Wired for Attention

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
November 2, 2010

University of Utah (U of U) medical researchers have uncovered a wiring diagram that shows how the brain pays attention to visual, cognitive, sensory, and motor cues. The research provides a critical foundation for the study of abnormalities in attention that can be seen in many brain disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, and attention deficit disorder.

A Model for Neural Development and Treatment of Rett Syndrome Using Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Source: 
Cell, Marchetto et al
Date Published: 
November 2010
Year Published: 
2010

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are complex neurodevelopmental diseases in which different combinations of genetic mutations may contribute to the phenotype. Using Rett syndrome (RTT) as an ASD genetic model, we recapitulate early stages of a human neurodevelopmental disease, using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from RTT patients' fibroblasts, which essentially creates a "disease in a dish". The data uncovered early alterations in developing human RTT neurons and suggest evidence of an unexplored developmental window, before disease onset, in RTT syndrome where potential therapies could be successfully employed. Our model represents a promising cellular tool for drug screening, diagnosis and personalized treatment.

Study Links Immune Protein to Abnormal Brain Development

Source: 
Medical News Today
Date Published: 
October 15, 2010
Abstract: 

Insight into the role that MHC plays in the nervous system and may enhance our understanding of the factors that can contribute to neuropsychiatric disorders like autism and schizophrenia. Increased levels of a protein called major histocompatibility complex, or MHC, in fetal neurons may be a factor development of autism or schizophrenia.

How Immune Response in Pregnancy May Lead to Brain Disfunction in Offspring

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
October 14, 2010
Abstract: 

A pregnant woman's immune response to viral infections may induce subtle neurological changes in the unborn child that can lead to an increased risk for neurodevelopmental disorders including schizophrenia and autism.

Better Way Developed to See Molecules at Work in Living Brain

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
October 12, 2010
Abstract: 

By creating a better way to see molecules at work in living brain cells, researchers affiliated with MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory and the MIT Department of Chemistry are helping elucidate molecular mechanisms of synapse formation. These studies could also help further understanding of how synapses go awry in developmental diseases such as autism and Fragile X syndrome.

Neonatal Jaundice Linked to Autism

Source: 
MedPage Today
Date Published: 
October 11, 2010
Abstract: 

Full-term neonates with jaundice are at greatly increased risk of later being diagnosed with a disorder of psychological development, a Danish study found. Neonatal jaundice typically is caused by increased bilirubin production and inadequate liver excretory function. Recent research has suggested that even moderate bilirubin exposure in very young children can be harmful, possibly leading to impairments in their development. They found that jaundice was more common among boys, infants born preterm, infants with congenital malformations, and low-birthweight infants.

Less Pain for Learning Gain

Source: 
Medical News Today
Date Published: 
September 28, 2010
Abstract: 

Now research from Northwestern University suggests a new way of training that could reduce by at least half the effort previously thought necessary to make learning gains. They suggest combining periods of practice may alone be too brief to cause learning with periods of mere exposure to perceptual stimuli.

Discovery of Key Pathway Interaction May Lead to Therapies that Aid Brain Growth and Repair

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
September 16, 2010
Abstract: 

Researchers at the Center for Neuroscience Research at Children's National Medical Center have discovered that the two major types of signaling pathways activated during brain cell development. This knowledge may help scientists design new ways to induce the brain to repair itself when these signals are interrupted, and indicate a need for further research to determine whether disruptions of these pathways in early brain development could lead to common neurodevelopmental disorders such as epilepsy, cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome, ADHD, and intellectual disabilities.