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Science News About Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

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Acting National Autism Coordinator Named

National Autism Coordinator Ann E. Wagner, Ph.D., will retire from federal service on June 30, 2021—Susan A. Daniels, Ph.D., will serve as Acting National Autism Coordinator beginning on July 1, 2021, and until a permanent successor is named.

mom holding baby, talking to doctor
Media Advisory: Prototype App for Mobile Devices Could Screen Children at Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder

A mobile app was successful at distinguishing toddlers diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) from typically developing toddlers based on their eye movements while watching videos, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Infant and female caregiver holding tablet and speaking with doctor.
NIH Awards Funding for Early Autism Screening

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded more than four million dollars in FY 2019 to support seven research projects aimed at developing and validating screening tools to detect signs of autism spectrum disorder in the first year of life.

A heatmap shows the amount of time a mouse spent in locations of an open field chamber during optogenetic stimulation of the cerebellar input to the VTA.
New Findings Reveal Surprising Role of the Cerebellum in Reward and Social Behaviors

A new study in rodents has demonstrated, for the first time, that the brain’s cerebellum plays a role in controlling reward and social preference behavior—findings that shed light on the brain circuits critical to the affective and social dysfunction seen across multiple psychiatric disorders.

brain scan showing molecular structure
2,000 Human Brains Yield Clues to How Genes Raise Risk for Mental Illnesses

PsychENCODE researchers are discovering the biological mechanisms by which mental illness risk genes work in the human brain.

MRI scan of infant's brain
Inflammation in Pregnant Moms Linked to Child’s Brain Development

High levels of maternal inflammation during pregnancy have been linked to effects in children, including reduced brain circuit communications and altered long-distance brain wiring at birth, poorer cognitive function at one year – and to reduced impulse control and working memory at two years.

a finger points to a section of a brain scan on a screen
“Covert” Neurofeedback Tunes-up the Social Brain in ASD

Young people with autism unknowingly tuned up flagging neural connections by playing a picture puzzle game that was rigged by their own brain activity.

Illustration of a DNA double helix
Inherited Variations in Noncoding Sections of DNA Associated with Autism

A new study has identified an association between paternally-inherited rare structural variants in noncoding segments of genes and the development of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The study adds to a growing body of research describing genetic contributors to ASD.

Chart shows correlations of gene expression between mental disorders.
Suspect Molecules Overlap in Autism, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder

Depression, schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorder share some of the same patterns of suspect gene expression – molecular signatures.

National Institute of Mental Health
NIMH’s Dr. Ann Wagner Designated as the National Autism Coordinator

NIMH’s Dr. Ann Wagner has been designed as the National Autism Coordinator. In this role, she will play a vital role in ensuring the implementation of national autism spectrum disorder research, services, and support activities across federal agencies.