Latest in Autism Research

The proper formation of axonal and dendritic morphologies is crucial for the precise wiring of the nervous system that ultimately leads to the generation of complex functions in an organism. The Semaphorin3A-Neuropilin1/Plexin-A4 signaling pathway has been shown to have multiple key roles in neurodevelopment, from axon repulsion to dendrite elaboration. This study demonstrates that three specific amino acids, the KRK motif within the Plexin-A4 receptor cytoplasmic domain, are required to coordinate the downstream signaling molecules to promote Sema3A-mediated cortical neuron dendritic elaboration, but not inhibitory axon guidance. Our results unravel a novel Semaphorin3A-Plexin-A4 downstream signaling pathway and shed light on how the disparate functions of axon guidance and dendritic morphogenesis are accomplished by the same extracellular ligand in vivo.

The data from digitized social interactions can take us beyond the limits of the naked eye and help us capture the autistic capacity for social readiness. Using personalized analytics, we can track the person’s dynamics with biosensors that continuously co-register the micro-movements derived from their biorhythms. More important yet, we can track the spontaneously self-emerging cohesiveness of their social rapport and better inform our decisions on whether and when the socio-motor patterns of autistic people unexpectedly match those of neurotypical controls performing the same social task. Our new unifying statistical methods help us bridge the enormous social gap that current diagnostics, missing this information, have created between autistic and neurotypical people.

Understanding the limits and faulty assumptions in the ADOS will help us better understand ASD and will help us better characterize neurodevelopmental trajectories.

Using big data approaches will help us understand and model heterogeneity in the autism population, which is important for precision medicine and personalized support.

Dysregulation in critical developmental networks identified in autism specific neurons derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).

Abnormal RNA editing identified in post-mortem brains samples from individuals with autism.

A complete protocol for analysis of data acquired from RNA and genome sequencing experiments.

Abnormal dendritic spines from iPSCs derived pyramidal neurons from ASD patients.

The ventral tegmental area, a region involved in reward and social behavior, is linked directly to the cerebellum, a structure implicated in autism.  

Multiple genetic variants contribute to a more severe autism phenotype.

Younger siblings of children with ASD are known to be at higher risk for developing language delays. The Infancy Studies Lab at Rutgers University-Newark has created an engaging interactive acoustic experience with the aim of helping baby siblings of children with ASD develop better pre-language skills known to be important for optimal and efficient language acquisition. Watch this short video to learn more about how to participate in this exciting, innovative research study.