Research Updates

Each month, I provide updates on some of the latest research I have found relevant to us. Read on!

Brain structures grow differently in boys, men with autism

From childhood to adulthood, there is a notable difference in brain development in males with autism. Over the span of 16 years—2003 to 2019—researchers completed up to five brain scans of 105 males with autism and 125 males without autism. Throughout the course of the study, 73 percent of the participants with autism and 50 percent of the participants without autism underwent all five scans.

Results showed that while boys with autism tended to have more gray matter in early childhood, by age 12, they had a similar volume as the boys without autism. However, their ventricles, which produce and transport cerebrospinal fluid throughout the brain, begin as the same size in early childhood, but tended to expand by age 21. The corpus callosum, a band of nerve fibers that connects the brain’s two hemispheres, also tended to grow more slowly and be smaller by age 36 than that of those without autism.

Read the full article here.

Study reveals long-term language benefits of early intensive behavioral intervention for autism

Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI) programs are an encouraging answer for improving language outcomes in children with autism, suggests a recent study. This was the first research study to explore how long-term EIBI programs affect language outcomes. Researchers collected language measures from 131 children with autism throughout their time in the EIBI program.

Results showed that children receiving EIBI made significant increases in language compared to children not in EIBI. Improvements in language grew even greater if children began EIBI at an earlier age.

Read the full article here.

Brain activity patterns may distinguish girls with autism

New findings lend support to the idea that autism has sex-specific biological roots. Researchers scanned the brains of 45 girls with autism, 47 boys with autism, and an equal number of girls and boys without autism. All participants were between 8 to 17 years of age.

The research team examined DNA samples for rare mutations in the participants’ genes, focusing on the size of copy number variations (CNVs), which are duplications or deletions of stretches of a chromosome. Girls with autism had larger CNVs on average when compared to boys with autism. This result supports the theory of the female protective effect, which suggests that girls need to inherit more genetic factors of autism than boys do to show traits of the condition.

Read the full article here.

Alexithymia, not autism, may drive eye-gaze patterns

 A new study suggests that eye-gaze patterns are driven more by alexithymia than by autism. Alexithymia is a reduced or complete inability, to produce, detect or interpret emotions. In the study, 25 participants with autism and 45 participants without autism watched short videos of people showing a neutral expression followed by an expression of one of five emotions: happiness, sadness, anger, fear or disgust.

Sometimes the participants were told in advance which emotion they would see. In those instances, gaze patterns became more unpredictable in participants with higher levels of alexithymia. Participants with more alexithymia traits also looked at eyes less often than people with fewer traits did.

Read the full article here.

Enzyme blockers may counteract excess protein levels in fragile X syndrome

Fragile X syndrome is the most common genetic cause of autism and intellectual disability. In a new study, the development of brain cells in males were partially stabilized by trial medications that prevented enzymes in engaging in protein production. Previous methods targeted cell surface receptors and failed in clinical trials. This new medicine blocks a specific component on a cell-growth enzyme, PI3K. It remains unclear if the findings will apply to females with fragile X syndrome.

Read the full article here.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s