Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Edge: THE IMPRINTED BRAIN THEORY By Christopher Badcock

Figure 2. Cingulate cortex response following ...

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What causes mental illnesses like schizophrenia and autism? We have long known that both tend to run in families and that if one of two identical twins has such a disorder, there is a much higher than average probability that the other will too. Autism is sometimes associated with genetic syndromes, such as Rett, Down, and Turner's, Phenylketonuria, and Tuberous Sclerosis. The clearest single-gene cause of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is Fragile X syndrome, with a wide range of severity in symptoms and 25-47 per cent of affected males meeting the criteria for autism. But neither autism nor schizophrenia obeys classical Mendelian laws of inheritance in the way that Cystic Fibrosis or some types of colour blindness do.

Edge: THE IMPRINTED BRAIN THEORY By Christopher Badcock

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

New Approach To Detect Autism Earlier

ScienceDaily (Jan. 18, 2008) — A new way of understanding autistic disorders, incorporating both psychological and biological factors, could lead to the conditions being picked up earlier, research from UNSW has found.

A review of research, published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, integrates psychological with biological theories of autism.

The work relates to autistic and Asperger’s disorders, which are characterised by ritualistic behaviours – such as counting, tapping, flicking, or repeatedly restating information – and compulsive behaviours including as a rigid adherence to routine and a marked resistance to change.

“Until now we have relied mostly on psychological approaches in making a diagnosis, but this needs to be incorporated with the biological approach – utilising information from brain mapping technology,” says the paper’s author, Professor Florence Levy, from UNSW’s School of Psychiatry.


I Cannot Tell a Lie - what people with autism can tell us about honesty - by Simon Baron-Cohen

In moral terms, honesty is without doubt a virtue, and dishonesty is a vice. But in social terms, absolute honesty can lead to trouble, risking causing offense to others who may not want or need to hear the complete truth. White lies may be desirable. And in biological terms, dishonesty is a sign of typical brain development, whereas someone who is incapable of dishonesty may be neurologically atypical. Dishonesty is one defining characteristic of what it is to be human. It is not the only defining characteristic, but it does separate us from other animals. Some nonhuman species may have a limited capacity for deception, but humans have a flexible, unlimited capacity for deception. And since anything that is uniquely human is likely to be part of our genetic makeup, it stands to reason that we are, in a sense, built for dishonesty � and those incapable of dishonesty, like people with autism, have a uniquely human disability. Beyond having deficits in social interaction, they live with a different relationship to morality. Their experience is a unique window into the typical human mind.

The genetics of autism

As scientists inch closer to unraveling autism's causes, this perplexing developmental condition increasingly shows its diverse roots.

Risky DNA: Autism studies yield fresh genetic leads: Science News Online, Jan. 12, 2008

Autistic Kids: The Sibling Problem

The "typically developing" siblings of autistic children are, in fact, the furthest thing from typical. Often, they are wiser and more mature than their age would suggest. And they have to be, given the myriad challenges they face: parental responsibility; a feeling of isolation from the rest of their family; confusion, fear, anger and embarrassment about their autistic sibling. And on top of all of it, guilt for having these feelings.

Autistic Kids: The Sibling Problem - TIME

Thin Bones Seen In Boys with Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder

Results of an early study suggest that dairy-free diets and unconventional food preferences could put boys with autism and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at higher than normal risk for thinner, less dense bones when compared to a group of boys the same age who do not have autism.

The study, by researchers from the National Institutes of Health and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, was published online in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

The researchers believe that boys with autism and ASD are at risk for poor bone development for a number of reasons. These factors are lack of exercise, a reluctance to eat a varied diet, lack of vitamin D, digestive problems, and diets that exclude casein, a protein found in milk and milk products. Dairy products provide a significant source of calcium and vitamin D. Casein-free diets are a controversial treatment thought by some to lessen the symptoms of autism.

Thin Bones Seen In Boys with Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder, January 29, 2008 News Release - National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Friday, November 30, 2007

Lunatics given place on asylum board

Respectful Insolence: Open-minded to the point of brains falling out: Antivaccinationists appointed to federal autism panel
We've had one example this week of people with minds so open that their brains fell out at the Oxford Union, which invited Holocaust denier and British National Party leader Nick Griffin to "discuss free speech." Now, sadly, I see another, this time it's the United States government, which has invited die-hard antivaccinationists to be on a major federal panel about autism:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Advocates who believe vaccines may cause autism will join mental health professionals and neurologists on a new federal panel to coordinate autism research and education, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department said on Tuesday.

Parents of children with autism and a writer who has an autism spectrum disorder will also be on the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, HHS said.

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