Xiaonan Guo, Guangjin Zhai, Junfeng Liu, Yabo Cao, Xia Zhang, Dong Cui, Le Gao
BACKGROUND: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder with considerable clinical heterogeneity. This study aimed to explore the heterogeneity of ASD based on inter-individual heterogeneity of functional brain networks. METHODS: Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging data from the Autism Brain Imaging Data Exchange database were used in this study for 105 children with ASD and 102 demographically matched typical controls (TC) children...
December 26, 2022: Molecular Autism
Natalie Libster, Azia Knox, Selin Engin, Daniel Geschwind, Julia Parish-Morris, Connie Kasari
BACKGROUND: Autistic children report higher levels of bullying victimization than their non-autistic peers. However, autistic children with fewer social difficulties, as measured on the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), are more likely to report being bullied. Autistic children with stronger social skills may not only be more likely to identify and report incidents of bullying, but they may also be more likely to interact with their non-autistic peers, increasing their likelihood of being victimized...
December 24, 2022: Molecular Autism
Rebecca M Pollak, Jordan E Pincus, T Lindsey Burrell, Joseph F Cubells, Cheryl Klaiman, Melissa M Murphy, Celine A Saulnier, Elaine F Walker, Stormi Pulver White, Jennifer G Mulle
BACKGROUND: The 1.6 Mb 3q29 deletion is associated with neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric phenotypes, including a 19-fold increased risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Previous work by our team identified elevated social disability in this population via parent-report questionnaires. However, clinical features of ASD in this population have not been explored in detail. METHODS: Thirty-one individuals with 3q29 deletion syndrome (3q29del, 61.3% male) were evaluated using two gold-standard clinical ASD evaluations: the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, Second Edition (ADOS-2), and the Autism Diagnostic Interview, Revised (ADI-R)...
December 24, 2022: Molecular Autism
Antonis Asiminas, Sam A Booker, Owen R Dando, Zrinko Kozic, Daisy Arkell, Felicity H Inkpen, Anna Sumera, Irem Akyel, Peter C Kind, Emma R Wood
BACKGROUND: Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is a common single gene cause of intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder. Cognitive inflexibility is one of the hallmarks of FXS with affected individuals showing extreme difficulty adapting to novel or complex situations. To explore the neural correlates of this cognitive inflexibility, we used a rat model of FXS (Fmr1-/y ). METHODS: We recorded from the CA1 in Fmr1-/y and WT littermates over six 10-min exploration sessions in a novel environment-three sessions per day (ITI 10 min)...
December 20, 2022: Molecular Autism
Olivia Surgent, Ali Riaz, Karla K Ausderau, Nagesh Adluru, Gregory R Kirk, Jose Guerrero-Gonzalez, Emily C Skaletski, Steven R Kecskemeti, Douglas C Dean Iii, Susan Ellis Weismer, Andrew L Alexander, Brittany G Travers
BACKGROUND: Elevated or reduced responses to sensory stimuli, known as sensory features, are common in autistic individuals and often impact quality of life. Little is known about the neurobiological basis of sensory features in autistic children. However, the brainstem may offer critical insights as it has been associated with both basic sensory processing and core features of autism. METHODS: Diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) and parent-report of sensory features were acquired from 133 children (61 autistic children with and 72 non-autistic children, 6-11 years-old)...
December 19, 2022: Molecular Autism
Lauren M Schmitt, Joy Li, Rui Liu, Paul S Horn, John A Sweeney, Craig A Erickson, Ernest V Pedapati
BACKGROUND: Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is the leading inherited monogenic cause of intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder. Executive function (EF), necessary for adaptive goal-oriented behavior and dependent on frontal lobe function, is impaired in individuals with FXS. Yet, little is known how alterations in frontal lobe neural activity is related to EF deficits in FXS. METHODS: Sixty-one participants with FXS (54% males) and 71 age- and sex-matched typically-developing controls (TDC; 58% males) completed a five-minute resting state electroencephalography (EEG) protocol and a computerized battery of tests of EF, the Test of Attentional Performance for Children (KiTAP)...
December 9, 2022: Molecular Autism
Virginia Carter Leno, Jannath Begum-Ali, Amy Goodwin, Luke Mason, Greg Pasco, Andrew Pickles, Shruti Garg, Jonathan Green, Tony Charman, Mark H Johnson, Emily J H Jones
BACKGROUND: Autism is proposed to be characterised by an atypical balance of cortical excitation and inhibition (E/I). However, most studies have examined E/I alterations in older autistic individuals, meaning that findings could in part reflect homeostatic compensation. To assess the directionality of effects, it is necessary to examine alterations in E/I balance early in the lifespan before symptom emergence. Recent explanatory frameworks have argued that it is also necessary to consider how early risk features interact with later developing modifier factors to predict autism outcomes...
December 8, 2022: Molecular Autism
Rachel L Moseley, Nicola J Gregory, Paula Smith, Carrie Allison, Sarah Cassidy, Simon Baron-Cohen
BACKGROUND: Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) has been linked with a higher risk of suicide attempts in autistic and non-autistic people. In the general population, NSSI may confer acquired capability for suicide by eroding one's fear and avoidance of pain and death. The present study aimed to explore acquired capability as the mediator of increased suicide risk conferred by NSSI in autistic and non-autistic adults. METHODS: Autistic and non-autistic adults (n = 314, n = 312) completed an online survey exploring lifetime suicide attempts, experience with NSSI, and acquired capability for suicide...
November 12, 2022: Molecular Autism
Paul Madley-Dowd, Christina Dardani, Robyn E Wootton, Kyle Dack, Tom Palmer, Rupert Thurston, Alexandra Havdahl, Jean Golding, Deborah Lawlor, Dheeraj Rai
BACKGROUND: There has been a growing interest in the association between maternal levels of vitamin D during pregnancy and offspring autism. However, whether any associations reflect causal effects is still inconclusive. METHODS: We used data from a UK-based pregnancy cohort study (Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children) comprising 7689 births between 1991 and 1992 with maternal blood vitamin D levels recorded during pregnancy and at least one recorded outcome measure, including autism diagnosis and autism-associated traits...
November 12, 2022: Molecular Autism
Hannah Meyer-Lindenberg, Carolin Moessnang, Bethany Oakley, Jumana Ahmad, Luke Mason, Emily J H Jones, Hannah L Hayward, Jennifer Cooke, Daisy Crawley, Rosemary Holt, Julian Tillmann, Tony Charman, Simon Baron-Cohen, Tobias Banaschewski, Christian Beckmann, Heike Tost, Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg, Jan K Buitelaar, Declan G Murphy, Michael J Brammer, Eva Loth
BACKGROUND: Difficulties in social communication are a defining clinical feature of autism. However, the underlying neurobiological heterogeneity has impeded targeted therapies and requires new approaches to identifying clinically relevant bio-behavioural subgroups. In the largest autism cohort to date, we comprehensively examined difficulties in facial expression recognition, a key process in social communication, as a bio-behavioural stratification biomarker, and validated them against clinical features and neurofunctional responses...
November 10, 2022: Molecular Autism
Adam J Naples, Jennifer H Foss-Feig, Julie M Wolf, Vinod H Srihari, James C McPartland
BACKGROUND: Deficits in establishing and maintaining eye-contact are early and persistent vulnerabilities of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and the neural bases of these deficits remain elusive. A promising hypothesis is that social features of autism may reflect difficulties in making predictions about the social world under conditions of uncertainty. However, no research in ASD has examined how predictability impacts the neural processing of eye-contact in naturalistic interpersonal interactions...
October 29, 2022: Molecular Autism
Renad Jabarin, Shai Netser, Shlomo Wagner
MAIN: In recent years, substantial advances in social neuroscience have been realized, including the generation of numerous rodent models of autism spectrum disorder. Still, it can be argued that those methods currently being used to analyze animal social behavior create a bottleneck that significantly slows down progress in this field. Indeed, the bulk of research still relies on a small number of simple behavioral paradigms, the results of which are assessed without considering behavioral dynamics. Moreover, only few variables are examined in each paradigm, thus overlooking a significant portion of the complexity that characterizes social interaction between two conspecifics, subsequently hindering our understanding of the neural mechanisms governing different aspects of social behavior...
October 25, 2022: Molecular Autism
Miru Yun, Eunjoon Kim, Min Whan Jung
BACKGROUND: A core symptom of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is repetitive and restrictive patterns of behavior. Cognitive inflexibility has been proposed as a potential basis for these symptoms of ASD. More generally, behavioral inflexibility has been proposed to underlie repetitive and restrictive behavior in ASD. Here, we investigated whether and how behavioral flexibility is compromised in a widely used animal model of ASD. METHODS: We compared the behavioral performance of Shank2-knockout mice and wild-type littermates in reversal learning employing a probabilistic classical trace conditioning paradigm...
October 3, 2022: Molecular Autism
Umit Keles, Dorit Kliemann, Lisa Byrge, Heini Saarimäki, Lynn K Paul, Daniel P Kennedy, Ralph Adolphs
BACKGROUND: Across behavioral studies, autistic individuals show greater variability than typically developing individuals. However, it remains unknown to what extent this variability arises from heterogeneity across individuals, or from unreliability within individuals. Here, we focus on eye tracking, which provides rich dependent measures that have been used extensively in studies of autism. Autistic individuals have an atypical gaze onto both static visual images and dynamic videos that could be leveraged for diagnostic purposes if the above open question could be addressed...
September 24, 2022: Molecular Autism
Josiah D Zoodsma, Emma J Keegan, Gabrielle R Moody, Ashwin A Bhandiwad, Amalia J Napoli, Harold A Burgess, Lonnie P Wollmuth, Howard I Sirotkin
BACKGROUND: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), like many neurodevelopmental disorders, has complex and varied etiologies. Advances in genome sequencing have identified multiple candidate genes associated with ASD, including dozens of missense and nonsense mutations in the NMDAR subunit GluN2B, encoded by GRIN2B. NMDARs are glutamate-gated ion channels with key synaptic functions in excitatory neurotransmission. How alterations in these proteins impact neurodevelopment is poorly understood, in part because knockouts of GluN2B in rodents are lethal...
September 22, 2022: Molecular Autism
Rachael A Muscatello, Emma Rafatjoo, Karan K Mirpuri, Ahra Kim, Simon Vandekar, Blythe A Corbett
BACKGROUND: Puberty is characterized by significant physical, hormonal, and psychological changes, which may be especially challenging for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Although the etiology of ASD remains uncertain, studies suggest imbalances in hormones, such as testosterone, may modulate the autism phenotype. While differences in fetal and postnatal testosterone have been reported, there is limited literature regarding testosterone variations during adolescence in ASD...
September 19, 2022: Molecular Autism
Adi Korisky, Ilanit Gordon, Abraham Goldstein
BACKGROUND: In the last decade, accumulative evidence has shown that oxytocin can modulate social perception in typically developed individuals and individuals diagnosed with autism. While several studies show that oxytocin (OT) modulates neural activation in social-related neural regions, the mechanism that underlies OT effects in ASD is not fully known yet. Despite evidence from animal studies on connections between the oxytocinergic system and excitation/inhibition neural balance, the influence of OT on oscillatory responses among individuals with ASD has been rarely examined...
September 5, 2022: Molecular Autism
Julia S Lord, Sean M Gay, Kathryn M Harper, Viktoriya D Nikolova, Kirsten M Smith, Sheryl S Moy, Graham H Diering
BACKGROUND: Patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience high rates of sleep disruption beginning early in life; however, the developmental consequences of this disruption are not understood. We examined sleep behavior and the consequences of sleep disruption in developing mice bearing C-terminal truncation mutation in the high-confidence ASD risk gene SHANK3 (Shank3ΔC). We hypothesized that sleep disruption may be an early sign of developmental divergence, and that clinically relevant Shank3WT/ΔC mice may be at increased risk of lasting deleterious outcomes following early life sleep disruption...
August 29, 2022: Molecular Autism
Natasha J Anstey, Vijayakumar Kapgal, Shashank Tiwari, Thomas C Watson, Anna K H Toft, Owen R Dando, Felicity H Inkpen, Paul S Baxter, Zrinko Kozić, Adam D Jackson, Xin He, Mohammad Sarfaraz Nawaz, Aiman Kayenaat, Aditi Bhattacharya, David J A Wyllie, Sumantra Chattarji, Emma R Wood, Oliver Hardt, Peter C Kind
BACKGROUND: Mutations in the postsynaptic transmembrane protein neuroligin-3 are highly correlative with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and intellectual disabilities (IDs). Fear learning is well studied in models of these disorders, however differences in fear response behaviours are often overlooked. We aim to examine fear behaviour and its cellular underpinnings in a rat model of ASD/ID lacking Nlgn3. METHODS: This study uses a range of behavioural tests to understand differences in fear response behaviour in Nlgn3-/y  rats...
July 18, 2022: Molecular Autism
Emily J Knight, Aaron I Krakowski, Edward G Freedman, John S Butler, Sophie Molholm, John J Foxe
BACKGROUND: Biological motion imparts rich information related to the movement, actions, intentions and affective state of others, which can provide foundational support for various aspects of social cognition and behavior. Given that atypical social communication and cognition are hallmark symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), many have theorized that a potential source of this deficit may lie in dysfunctional neural mechanisms of biological motion processing. Synthesis of existing literature provides some support for biological motion processing deficits in autism spectrum disorder, although high study heterogeneity and inconsistent findings complicate interpretation...
July 18, 2022: Molecular Autism
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