Autism Conference and Autism Science

29 May

First of all, I want to let people know that the second USD Autism Conference involving Autism Hub members Has been announced.

There is a Facebook Event to allow the Autism Hub Facebook Group to disseminate information about the conference.

This is, once again, due to the tireless work of Steve. Thanks are due to him.

Secondly, an interesting piece of new science has been announced:

A Long Island researcher has pinpointed for the first time brain regions in children with autism linked to “ritualistic repetitive behavior,” the insatiable desire to rock back and forth for hours or tirelessly march in place.


In children with autism, Shafritz found deficits in specific regions of the cerebral cortex, the outer layer of gray matter linked to all higher human functions, including repetitive behavior. He also mapped deficits in the basal ganglia, a region deep below the cerebral hemispheres.

So this would seem to be yet another area of autistic behaviour that has been ‘reclaimed’ from the anti-vaccine people who claim that the repetitive behaviours were a symptom of mercury poisoning. This is, of course, all to the good as it means that accuracy has replaced supposition.

8 Responses to “Autism Conference and Autism Science”

  1. Ms. Clark May 29, 2008 at 09:11 #

    Off topic. Rightnow, if one clicks on the “leave a comment” link on the main page (for this entry it takes one to that “share this post” website.

    On topic. I hope the conference goes fantastically well. I think it will. Maybe next year we can do an Autism Hub One conference in England. Of course, our celebrity will be Sigourney Weaver… or maybe Dan Akroyd…

  2. Ms. Clark May 29, 2008 at 09:14 #

    Oh, and repetitive behavior is a sure sign that the kid needs a dose of a powerful prescription antifungal or some Olive Leaf Extract, don’t you know, ‘cuz it means the kid is “yeasty”. (/sarcasm)

  3. M Luján May 29, 2008 at 15:19 #

    Hi Kev
    The doctor presented evidence about deficits in the basal ganglia…but not why.

  4. Kev May 29, 2008 at 16:25 #

    Dammit Maria, you take all the fun out of everything ;o)

  5. María Luján May 29, 2008 at 16:39 #

    I know 🙂

  6. Joseph May 29, 2008 at 17:10 #

    But to put this in perspective, I am not aware of any region of the brain or any structural component of the brain that hasn’t been implicated in autism at least once prior.

  7. mjs May 29, 2008 at 17:40 #

    but…but…but…all these abnormalities in the brain are because of all the mercury toxicity…

  8. M Luján May 29, 2008 at 19:37 #

    Looking at this conference

    Click to access draft_program.pdf

    and this
    Methods Mol Biol. 2008;448:187-212. L
    Epigenetic alterations of the dopaminergic system in major psychiatric disorders.
    Abdolmaleky HM, Smith CL, Zhou JR, Thiagalingam S.
    Laboratory of Nutrition and Metabolism at BIDMC, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

    Although there is evidence to link schizophrenia (SCZ) and bipolar disorder (BD) to genetic and environmental factors, specific individual or groups of genes/factors causative of the disease have been elusive to the research community. An understanding of the molecular aberrations that cause these mental illnesses requires comprehensive approaches that examine both genetic and epigenetic factors. Because of the overwhelming evidence for the role of environmental factors in the disease presentation, our initial approach involved deciphering how epigenetic changes resulting from promoter DNA methylation affect gene expression in SCZ and BD. Apparently, the central reversible but covalent epigenetic modification to DNA is derived from methylation of the cytosine residues that is potentially heritable and can affect gene expression and downstream activities. Environmental factors can influence DNA methylation patterns and hence alter gene expression. Such changes can be especially problematic in individuals with genetic susceptibilities to specific diseases. Recent reports from our laboratory provided compelling evidence that both hyper- and hypo-DNA methylation changes of the regulatory regions play critical roles in defining the altered functionality of genes in major psychiatric disorders such as SCZ and BD. In this chapter, we outline the technical details of the methods that could help to expand this line of research to assist with compiling the differential methylation-mediated epigenetic alterations that are responsible for the pathogenesis of SCZ, BD, and other mental diseases. We use the genes of the extended dopaminergic (DAergic) system such as membrane-bound catechol-O-methyltransferase (MB-COMT), monoamine oxidase A (MAOA), dopamine transporter 1 (DAT1), tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), dopamine (DA) receptors1 and 2 (DRD1/2), and related genes (e.g., reelin [RELN] and brain-derived neurotrophic factor [BDNF]) to illustrate the associations between differential promoter DNA methylations and disease phenotype. It is our hope that comprehensive analyses of the DAergic system as the prototype could provide the impetus and molecular basis to uncover early markers for diagnosis, help in the understanding of differences in disease severity in individuals with similar or identical genetic makeup, and assist with the identification of novel targets for therapeutic applications.

    All the situation is very very much complicated,than only mercury IMHO.

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