Infections during pregnancy may interfere with key genes associated with autism and prenatal brain development

21 Mar 2017

If a mother picks up an infection during pregnancy, her immune system will kick into action to clear the infection – but this self-defence mechanism may also have a small influence how her child’s brain develops in the womb, in ways that are similar to how the brain develops in autism spectrum disorders. Now, an international team of researchers has shown why this may be the case, in a study using rodents to model infection during pregnancy.

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Musical tastes offer a window into how you think

22 Jul 2015

Do you like your jazz to be Norah Jones or Ornette Coleman, your classical music to be Bach or Stravinsky, or your rock to be Coldplay or Slayer? The answer could give an insight into the way you think, say researchers from the University of Cambridge.

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Lego ordered into compartments

Males and females with autism show an extreme of the typical male mind

16 Jul 2014

The largest ever psychological study of sex differences in adults with autism has found that both males and females with autism on average show an extreme of the typical male mind, where systemising (the drive to look for underlying rules in a system) is stronger than empathising (the ability to recognize the thoughts and feelings of others and to respond to these with appropriate emotions).

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Boy with autism

Children with autism have elevated levels of steroid hormones in the womb

03 Jun 2014

Children who later develop autism are exposed to elevated levels of steroid hormones (for example testosterone, progesterone and cortisol) in the womb, according to scientists from the University of Cambridge and the Statens Serum Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark. The finding may help explain why autism is more common in males than females. However, the researchers caution it should not be used to screen for the condition.

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