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'Resting' Autism Brains Still Hum with Activity

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
February 21, 2014
Abstract: 

Even at rest, the brains of people with autism manage more information than those of their peers, according to a new study that may provide support for the so-called ‘intense world’ theory of autism. The research, which was published in Frontiers in Neuroinformatics, included nine children with Asperger syndrome, aged between 6 and 14 and ten age-matched typical children. The researchers scanned their brains using magnetoencephalography (MEG), a noninvasive method that doesn’t require lying in a noisy, confined space as magnetic resonance imaging does. The results suggest that in the same boring situation, people with autism process more information than their typical peers.

Spatial, Verbal Skills in Autism Even Out with Age

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
February 14, 2014
Abstract: 

A rigorous new study confirms that boys with autism tend to score higher on tests of spatial and analytical abilities than on those for verbal skills. But the gap decreases by the time they reach 10 years of age. This suggests that the trait cannot be used to define children with autism or their families, the researchers say. Instead, it may be a pattern of development common in children with autism or other developmental disorders. The report was published in the January issue of the American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Induced Neuron Cell Line Resembles Immature, Healthy Neurons

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
February 12, 2014
Abstract: 

A commercially available line of neurons generated from induced stem cells would serve as a good control for autism research, according to a study published in Psychopharmacology. Characterizing these neurons in detail shows that they express most of the genes linked to autism and look like typical, albeit immature, cells. Induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs, are skin or blood cells reverted to a state from which they can become any cell in the body. Researchers can use the technique to turn cells from people with a neuropsychiatric disorder into neurons. They can then compare the neurons with those from controls to gain understanding of the disorder.

Neurobehavioural Effects of Developmental Toxicity

Source: 
The Lancet
Date Published: 
February 14, 2014
Abstract: 

Neurodevelopmental disabilities, including autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, and other cognitive impairments, affect millions of children worldwide, and some diagnoses seem to be increasing in frequency. A new study in The Lancet states that industrial chemicals that injure the developing brain are among the known causes for this rise in prevalence. Building on a 2006 study in which researchers identified five industrial chemicals as developmental neurotoxicants (lead, methylmercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, arsenic, and toluene), epidemiological studies have documented six additional developmental neurotoxicants — manganese, fluoride, chlorpyrifos, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, tetrachloroethylene, and the polybrominated diphenyl ethers. To protect children from exposure to such harmful chemicals, researchers say that untested chemicals should not be presumed to be safe to brain development.

Epilepsy Drug Alters Rodent Gut

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
February 14, 2014
Abstract: 

In utero exposure to the epilepsy drug valproic acid (VPA), which ups the risk of autism, may alter the composition of gut bacteria in rodents, according a study published in Brain Behavior and Immunity. Rats and mice exposed to VPA in utero have social deficits, repetitive behaviors and anxiety, making them a good model for studying autism. It is unclear exactly how VPA exposure leads to these symptoms, however.

Drug Calms Overly Excitable Brains in Autism Rodent Models

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
February 10, 2014
Abstract: 

The blood pressure drug bumetanide normalizes a deficit in brain activity in two rodent models of autism, according to a study published in Science. The study hints at a mechanism underlying the drug’s benefits for people with autism. Neurochlore, a company based in Marseilles, France, is testing bumetanide as a treatment for autism. In the first phase, 27 children with autism showed some improvement in their autism symptoms; the researchers are continuing the trial in Europe with more participants.

State of the States for Services and Supports for People with ASD

Source: 
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Department of Health and Human Services
Date Published: 
January 28, 2014
Abstract: 

In 2009, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) contracted with L&M Policy Research (L&M) and its partners, Truven Health Analytics (formerly the health care business of Thomson Reuters) and the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services, to address the growing need among federal and state policymakers and stakeholders for accurate and comprehensive information regarding available services and supports for people with ASD. The Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) State of the States of Services and Supports for People with ASD report stemmed from the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee's (IACC's) 2010 and 2011 Strategic Plans. The overall goal of this project was to capture information about services for people with ASD across all federal and state-level agencies and offices that could serve as a useful tool and be updated on an as-needed basis. In addition, the project aimed to identify gaps in data.

Report to Congress on Activities Related to Autism Spectrum Disorder and Other Developmental Disabilities Under the Combating Autism Act of 2006 and Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2011 (FY 2010 - FY 2012)

Source: 
Department of Health and Human Services
Date Published: 
February 2014
Abstract: 

This Report to Congress is required by Public Law 112-32, the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2011. The report describes progress and expenditures made in autism spectrum disorder (ASD)- related research and services activities across the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education, the Department of Defense, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Science Foundation from fiscal years 2010- 2012.

The PDF version of the report can be found here

Feds Clarify How To Apply For Autism Tracking Devices

Source: 
Disability Scoop
Date Published: 
February 6, 2014
Abstract: 

A week after announcing that the federal government will pay for tracking devices for kids with autism, officials are offering more details about how families can access the technology. All applications must go through law enforcement agencies, so organizations and schools should work with local police to put programs in place. Police departments that receive money through the federal Byrne grant will be responsible for designing and administering their local program and determining how tracking devices are distributed.

Blazing Trails in Brain Science

Source: 
New York Times
Date Published: 
February 3, 2014
Abstract: 

Dr. Thomas R. Insel’s twisted path to his role as director of the National Institute of Mental Health is a tour of where psychiatric science has been, where it’s going and why.