Preliminary studies suggest that the so-called ‘love hormone’ oxytocin could improve some of the social deficits characteristic of people with autism. On 11 April, SFARI hosted a workshop to explore oxytocin’s relationship to social behavior and its potential as a therapy for autism.
Children with autism often have behaviors that suggest problems with attention. It is unclear whether this attention deficit causes the other symptoms of autism or is a consequence of the disorder. On 4 February, SFARI hosted a workshop to discuss the nature of differences in attention in people with autism.
Researchers need reliable methods to interpret autism candidate genes, including rodent models to assess the impact of genes on behavior. On 4 February, SFARI hosted a workshop to discuss the role of mouse models and behavioral assays in autism research. The participants concluded that the field should invest in techniques that can be standardized across laboratories and emphasized the importance of mouse models for identifying biomarkers and testing therapies.
Much of the recent advances in autism have been on the genetic and behavioral levels of dysfunction present in the disorder. Comparatively little is known about altered function in the underlying neural circuitry. Aiming to generate discussion on the best avenues to pursue in order to better understand the circuitry in autism, SFARI on 17 May held a one-day workshop.
On 5 February 2010, the Simons Foundation gathered a panel of experts to discuss what initially appears to be a surprising and unrelated pair of subjects: autism and fever. Anecdotal reports have found that fever can improve cognitive function and behavior in individuals with autism.
As the number of available DNA samples continues to increase and the cost of sequencing continues to drop, one can't help but want to capture all of the genetic variation that might be contributing to autism susceptibility in these families. Toward this end, SFARI organized a one-day workshop on the prospects for sequencing samples from the Simons Simplex Collection.
Autism is a developmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and restricted and repetitive behavior. Because there are no biological markers for the disorder, it is defined and diagnosed purely behaviorally. But the precise cognitive phenotype is not well understood.