There is a severe shortage of postmortem brain tissue for research. This article presents some of the major advances in autism research made possible through human brain tissue research.
Genetics and autism
When Henny Kupferstein discovered she had perfect pitch, she wondered if it was because of her autism. Researchers are wondering that, too. A growing number of studies have found that people with autism are more likely to have this rare musical gift – or at least some version of it – than the general population. What's behind this remarkable ability?
National Geographic arrives with the provocative title, "The War on Science." Inside, readers learn that some people are skeptical of vaccines and other things commonly accepted by scientists. Into this divide comes Dr. Ruth Fischbach. Can her study on autism close the gap between parents and scientists?
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld stepped into a minefield when he diagnosed himself as being on the autism spectrum – "on a very drawn out scale." He complained of problems with social engagement and understanding figures of speech. Were these faint whispers of autism he described similar to the Broad Autism Phenotype?
Raphael Bernier wanted to help people with their day-to-day lives. Could he do that from an autism research lab?
What plays a bigger role in autism, genetics or environment? Scientists don't agree on the answer, but the debate just got more attention with the arrival of a new study of twins. When you look at extreme autism symptoms, genetics plays almost the only role, it concludes.
Scientists often make discoveries by starting with a set of symptoms and looking for the cause. But some autism researchers worked in reverse: they began with a mutated gene and then looked for its symptoms. In so doing, they found a subtype of autism with its own traits.
Dr. Wendy Chung, director of clinical research at the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative, presented What We Know About Autism at a TED2014 conference. Listen to what she had to say.
Scientists have taken a close look at the protein-coding portion of the DNA of families in the SSC and have identified a number of genetic errors that are strong risk factors for autism. Scientists are making strides in the understanding of the biological origins of ASD in the developing brain.
Noted autism researcher Dr. Wendy Chung responds to frequently asked questions about autism spectrum disorder and the state of autism science research. Dr. Chung gave a recent TED talk on autism.