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Autism Press Releases


Flicking internal brain switches on and off

Scientists use lasers to control mouse brain switchboard
Thursday, Aug 14, 2014
Ever wonder why it’s hard to focus after a bad night’s sleep? Using mice and flashes of light, scientists show that just a few nerve cells in the brain may control the switch between internal thoughts and external distractions. The study, partly funded by the National Institutes of Health, may be a breakthrough in understanding how a critical part of the brain, called the thalamic reticular nucleus (TRN), influences consciousness.

New NIH logo

NeuroBioBank gives researchers one-stop access to post-mortem brains
Wednesday, Nov 27, 2013
To expedite research on brain disorders, the National Institutes of Health is shifting from a limited funding role to coordinating a Web-based resource for sharing post-mortem brain tissue. Under a NIH NeuroBioBank initiative, five brain banks will begin collaborating in a tissue sharing network for the neuroscience community.

Severe Childhood Epilepsy Gene Mutations

NIH-funded study discovers new genes for childhood epilepsies
Sunday, Aug 11, 2013
A genetic study of childhood epilepsies has linked two new genes to severe forms of disease and provides a novel strategy for identifying therapy targets. This study used a cutting-edge genetic technique, called exome sequencing, to search for new mutations that are not inherited. The results suggest this may be a highly effective way to find and confirm many disease-causing gene mutations.

TSC Changes Purkinje Cells

Big Cells in “Little Brain” may be Involved with Autism
Wednesday, Apr 10, 2013
Nestled in the back and bottom part of the brain is a distinctive-looking region called the cerebellum. Nicknamed “the little brain,” the cerebellum is primarily known for controlling movement and coordination.

A microglial cell in the mature mouse brain

NIH-supported study shows how immune cells change wiring of the developing mouse brain
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Researchers show how immune cells in the brain target and remove unused connections, or synapses, between neurons during normal development. Immune cells known as microglia respond to neuronal activity to select synapses to prune, and eliminate synapses in the way that bacterial cells or other pathogenic debris are eliminated.

CT scans show differences among six types of traumatic brain injury.

NIH database will speed research toward better prevention, diagnosis and treatment of TBI
Monday, Aug 29, 2011
NIH, in partnership with the Department of Defense, is building the Federal Interagency Traumatic Brain Injury Research (FITBIR) database. The database is expected to accelerate research toward better treatment and diagnosis of TBI by making it easier to compare results across studies.

Histamine molecule by H. Zell

Abnormalities in Brain Histamine may be Key Factor in Tourette Syndrome
Tuesday, Sep 14, 2010
Since the first case description in the 19th century, the causes of Tourette syndrome have been a mystery. Now researchers have identified a rare gene mutation responsible for the disorder in one family. The gene is needed for producing histamine, a small molecule with many roles in the body, including signaling in the brain.

A zebra finch sitting on a tree branch.

Songbird Genome Analysis Reveals New Insights Into Vocal Behavior
Thursday, Apr 1, 2010
An international research consortium has identified more than 800 genes that appear to play a role in the male zebra finch’s ability to learn elaborate songs from his father. The researchers also found evidence that song behavior engages complex gene regulatory networks within the brain of the songbird — networks that rely on parts of the genome once considered junk.

Clinical Trial for Childhood Absence Epilepsy Identifies Differences in Seizure Control and Side Effects
Thursday, Mar 4, 2010
The first comprehensive comparative effectiveness clinical trial of three widely used anti-seizure drugs for childhood absence epilepsy – the most common form of epilepsy in kids – has established an evidence-based approach for initial drug therapy.

NINDS Names Dr. Petra Kaufmann Director of the Office of Clinical Research
Wednesday, Sep 9, 2009
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the National Institutes of Health, has named Petra Kaufmann, M.D., M.Sc., as director of its Office of Clinical Research.

NIH Launches the Human Connectome Project to Unravel the Brain’s Connections
Wednesday, Jul 15, 2009
The National Institutes of Health Blueprint for Neuroscience Research is launching a $30 million project that will use cutting-edge brain imaging technologies to map the circuitry of the healthy adult human brain. By systematically collecting brain imaging data from hundreds of subjects, the Human Connectome Project (HCP) will yield insight into how brain connections underlie brain function, and will open up new lines of inquiry for human neuroscience.

Risk of Autism Tied to Genes that Influence Brain Cell Connections
Tuesday, Apr 28, 2009
In three studies, including the most comprehensive study of autism genetics to date, investigators funded in part by the National Institutes of Health have identified common and rare genetic factors that affect the risk of autism spectrum disorders. The results point to the importance of genes that are involved in forming and maintaining the connections between brain cells.

Tuberous Sclerosis Moves toward Drug Therapy, Offers Clues to Epilepsy and Autism
Friday, Oct 24, 2008
Three recent studies show that the drug rapamycin reduces neurological symptoms in mouse models of tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), a rare genetic disorder associated with epilepsy and autism. Scientists say those results could pave the way for effective treatment – and not just for TSC.

NINDS Announces New Spanish-Language Website
Friday, Dec 7, 2007
Free, accurate information on many neurological disorders is now available on a new Spanish-language website from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The website is available at espanol.ninds.nih.gov.

El NINDS Anuncia una Nueva Página Web en Español
Friday, Dec 7, 2007
Información precisa y gratuita sobre muchos desordenes neurológicos esta ahora disponible en una nueva página web en español del National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) el cual es parte de los National Institutes of Health (NIH). La página web se encuentra disponible en espanol.ninds.nih.gov.

Mutant Mice Exhibit Abnormal Social Interactions and Brain Changes; Possible Animal Model for Autism Spectrum Disorders
Monday, Aug 14, 2006
A new study shows that inactivating a gene called Pten in a mouse model produces disturbances in social interaction and brain organization that closely mirror human autism and related disorders.  This is the first time scientists have developed an animal model with both behavioral and cellular abnormalities similar to autism.  These animals could provide important insights into understanding the brain regions and neurochemical interactions that underlie in this mysterious disease.

Learning New Rules about the "Primitive" Brain
Wednesday, May 4, 2005
A new study sheds light on how people quickly learn associations such as “stop at red” or “go at green”. This study challenges the current view of how specific brain areas help us learn rules and behave accordingly. The findings help to reveal how the brain organizes and orders its functions and processes, systems that may be disrupted in disorders such as schizophrenia and autism.

Researchers Identify Joubert Syndrome Genes
Monday, Feb 7, 2005
Researchers have identified the genes for two different forms of Joubert syndrome, a rare developmental disorder that causes coordination and movement problems and mental retardation in children. The findings allow genetic testing for some forms of the disorder and provide valuable insights about how the human brain develops.

Blood Markers Associated with Autism and Mental Retardation
Wednesday, Apr 25, 2001
A new study shows that elevated concentrations of proteins present at birth in the blood may be associated with the development of autism and mental retardation later in childhood. The identification of a biological marker early in life and before the onset of symptoms could lead to earlier and more definitive diagnoses, better clinical definitions, and the discovery of interventional therapies for the disorders.
Fact Sheet

Second Gene Responsible for Tuberous Sclerosis Complex Identified; TSC1 Finding on Chromosome 9 Follows 1993 Discovery of TSC2 Gene
Thursday, Aug 7, 1997
Scientists have identified the second of two genes that cause tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), a relatively common developmental disorder characterized by a number of abnormalities, including seizures, benign tumors in several organs, and variable emotional and cognitive disabilities. The discovery, to be reported in the August 8, 1997, issue of Science by David Kwiatkowski, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), both components of the National Institutes of Health.