Using salivary microRNA to diagnose autism

This 2016 New York human study found: “Measurement of salivary miRNA in this pilot study of subjects with mild ASD [autism spectrum disorder] demonstrated differential expression of 14 miRNAs that are: expressed in the developing brain, impact mRNAs related to brain development, and correlate with neurodevelopmental measures of adaptive behavior.” Some problems with current diagnostic … Continue reading Using salivary microRNA to diagnose autism

Where do our beliefs about our children come from? An autism example

A 2015 case study by Ohio physicians highlighted: “Although only a small minority of patients with autism have a mitochondrial disease, many patients with mitochondrial myopathies have autism spectrum disorder symptoms. These symptoms may be the presenting symptoms, which presents a diagnostic challenge for clinicians. The case of a 15-year-old boy with a history of … Continue reading Where do our beliefs about our children come from? An autism example

A review of genetic and epigenetic approaches to autism

This 2015 Chicago review noted: “Recent developments in the research of ASD [autistic spectrum disorder] with a focus on epigenetic pathways as a complement to current genetic screening. Not all children with a predisposing genotype develop ASD. This suggests that additional environmental factors likely interact with the genome in producing ASD. Increased risk of ASD … Continue reading A review of genetic and epigenetic approaches to autism

A mixed bag of findings about oxytocin, its receptor, and autism

This 2014 Stanford human study found: “No empirical support for the OXT [oxytocin] deficit hypothesis of ASD [autism spectrum disorder], nor did plasma OXT concentrations differ by sex, OXTR [oxytocin receptor] SNPs [single nucleotide polymorphisms], or their interactions.” Apparently, there was a: “Prevalent but not well-interrogated OXT deficit hypothesis of ASD.” The researchers followed up … Continue reading A mixed bag of findings about oxytocin, its receptor, and autism

A missed opportunity to research the oxytocin receptor gene and autism

This 2013 study: “Examined whether genetic variants of the OXTR [oxytocin receptor] affect face recognition memory in families with an autistic child. We investigated whether common polymorphisms in the genes encoding the oxytocin and vasopressin 1a receptors influence social memory for faces.” I feel that the researchers missed an opportunity to improve their assessment of … Continue reading A missed opportunity to research the oxytocin receptor gene and autism

A problematic study of oxytocin receptor gene methylation, childhood abuse, and psychiatric symptoms

This 2016 Georgia human study found: “A role for OXTR [oxytocin receptor gene] in understanding the influence of early environments on adult psychiatric symptoms. Data on 18 OXTR CpG sites, 44 single nucleotide polymorphisms, childhood abuse, and adult depression and anxiety symptoms were assessed in 393 African American adults. The Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ), a … Continue reading A problematic study of oxytocin receptor gene methylation, childhood abuse, and psychiatric symptoms

What was not, is not, and will never be

Neuroskeptic’s blog post Genetic Testing for Autism as an Existential Question related the story of “A Sister, a Father and a Son: Autism, Genetic Testing, and Impossible Decisions.” “I decided to put the question to my sister, Maria. Although she is autistic, she is of high intelligence. Maria was excited to be an aunt soon, … Continue reading What was not, is not, and will never be

Improved methodology in studying epigenetic DNA methylation

This 2015 New York human study was of: “The two major populations of human prefrontal cortex neurons..the excitatory glutamatergic projection neurons and the inhibitory GABAergic interneurons which constitute about 80% and 20% of all cortical neurons, respectively. Major differences between the neuronal subtypes were revealed in CpG, non-CpG and hydroxymethylation (hCpG). A dramatically greater number … Continue reading Improved methodology in studying epigenetic DNA methylation

A study on alpha brain waves and visual processing that had limited findings

This 2015 Wisconsin human study found: “Forming predictions about when a stimulus will appear can bias the phase of ongoing alpha-band oscillations toward an optimal phase for visual processing, and may thus serve as a mechanism for the top-down control of visual processing guided by temporal predictions.” The researchers measured delta (1-4 Hz), theta (4-7 … Continue reading A study on alpha brain waves and visual processing that had limited findings

The amygdala is where we integrate our perception of human facial emotion

We all have specialized brain circuits for recognizing faces. Each person has their own historical judgment of the emotion in a human face, which may or may not be the emotion objectively displayed by the face. The amygdala, not the hippocampus, part of the limbic system was found to be where we integrate our perception … Continue reading The amygdala is where we integrate our perception of human facial emotion