Tag Archive for 'neurology'

Excessive levels of calcium mark brains of individuals with Autism

Writing in Molecular Psychiatry, L. Palmieri of the Laboratory of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Department of Pharmaco-Biology, University of Bari (Bari, IT) and colleagues reported the results of a small-n study of levels of metabolic transporters in the brain tissue of individuals with and without Autism. They compared the contents of samples from the brains of individuals with Autism and individual without Autism (matched on the bases of sex, age, and time after death that the samples were obtained). They found aspartate-glutamate carrier activity was increased by excessive calcium levels in brains of the Autistic individuals.
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Self- and other-referents in Autism

I’m going a little afield here, as this is not about children or youth. Still, I thought it might be interesting to a reader or two. Using images of the brains of adults with Autism and other adults without Autism, Michael Lombardo and colleagues examined activity in two parts of the individuals brains considered to be involved in thinking about oneself or about others. They found that the individuals with Autism showed differences from their not-Autistic matches in the area of the brain (cingulate cortex) that is active during social interactions and bonding.

All of the participants who had Autism diagnoses (N=29) were pretty high functioning. They were, on average, 26 years old, their average full-scale IQ was almost 116, and on the ADI-R social, communication, and repetitive scales their average (SD) ratings were 17.87 (4.73), 14.83 (3.58), and 5.78 (2.71) respectively.
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Sleep predictors of later depression

Adolescents who are at risk for later episodes of major depressive disorders differ from their peers who are not at risk on multiple measures of rapid eye movement (REM) and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) activity during sleep, according to a study by Uma Rao and colleagues that appeared this fall in Neuropsychopharmacology . Early depressive episodes that occur during adolescence are strongly associated with other later problems in other areas such as interpersonal relationships, pregnancy, educational attainment, employment, and suicidal behavior; finding predictors of later problems is important for primary and secondary prevention.

Rao and colleagues compared youths at risk for major depressive disorder with peers using electroencephalographic (EEG) and HPA measures. They then followed the youths for 5 years and correlated their EEG and HPA measures with the chances of later episodes of depression. Here’s the abstract:
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Mirror neurons background

In Scientific American, Daniel Lametti wrote an article providing background research on mirror neurons and implications for future research. The article, “Mirroring Behavior: How mirror neurons let us interact with others,” only has a few words about Autism and mirror neurons. However, readers of EBD Blog who are new to the topic and who want to understand the concepts in general will likely benefit from reading it.

Link to Mr. Lametti’s article.

Mirror, mirror, neuron, neuron

I’ve been meaning to post this for quite some time and, as I prepared for tomorrow’s class, I just now remembered it.

For any (of my two) readers who are interested in the hypothesis about mirror neurons’ connection to Autism, in October of 2007 Professor Marco Iacoboni of UCLA gave a pair of talks in the distinguished lecture series hosted by the M.I.N.D. Institute at U.C. Davis. Although it is probably the second one that will interest readers of EBD blog, the first one provides very valuable background concepts. Set aside time, as these are each about an hour long.

“The Problem of Other Minds: Intersubjectivity and Mirror Neurons” via Quicktime or Windows Media. “The Mirror Neuron Hypothesis of Autism” via Quicktime or Windows Media.

Possible balancer of neural excitation-inhibition?

Neurons in the central nervous system communicate with each other chemically through neural synapses. Neurons receive excitatory input from glutamatergic neurons and inhibitory input from GABA-releasing (GABAergic) interneurons. Some hypotheses about Autism are predicated on the possibility that there is an imbalance between the excitatory and inhibitory neural activity, perhaps especially in the so-called mirror neurons. Reporting in Nature, Yingxi Lin and fellow scientistics working in Michael Greenberg’s group at Harvard University have discovered a gene—Npas4—that may regulate the balance between excessive and insufficient excitation of synapses.
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