Scientific Report - Extra brain cells may be key to Autism

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Marg's Man, Nov 9, 2011.

  1. Marg's Man

    Marg's Man Member

    Many of you know that Marg and I are scientists.

    We stay in touch with branches of science outside our areas of expertise by subscribing to several different sources of information. One of the best broad spectrum sources is the Australian ABC's weekly Science newsletter.

    They are reporting some new research which may show a proximal cause for Autism. Here's the general news link on their website:
    Index of /science/articles/2011/11

    It's a long way from proven but it is solid data.

    I'm off to chase down the original research papers

    Marg's Man
  2. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I love your signatures, yours and marg's. makes me smile. Thanks for the link. keep em coming... Love reading stuff like that.
  3. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    The link didn't work for me.

    I recall when my friend's daughter was diagnosed her telling me the DR said something about extra chromosomes - did the research mention that?
  4. Marg's Man

    Marg's Man Member

    Gday hearts and roses,

    I just checked and it has stopped working for me too.

    The item is still there, at this link:

    Extra brain cells may be key to autism › News in Science (ABC Science)

    I think the site parser may have corrupted the link or the ABC may have moved it into their archive area, the address is different to what I posted last night. It should be more stable there.

    Here's a couple of other links referred to in the article:
    Neuron Number and Size in Prefrontal Cortex of Children With Autism, November 9, 2011, Courchesne et al. 306 (18): 2001
    WARNING: Science content. This is the original Journal of the American Medical Association paper. It may be locked off to the general public.

    Marg's Man
  5. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Reminds me, Marg's Man, I'm shooting you off a PM for our lovely scientist couple and their scientist friends to ponder (if it hasn't been pondered already, though I can find no research on it).
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I looked up a newspaper article on this - a friend emailed the link to me. I'm perusing the journal article now.

    My concern with this - sample size coupled with wide age range. I think it really is too difficult to be able to say with any significance, that there is a link. There are too many other possible factors. I'd like to see their individual results before I would be prepared to comment further.

    But I do think it shows a direction in future research, and surely brain imaging can show size of various parts of the brain in vivo? That would give a better sample size. Also more representative, because to only be able to study dead kids automatically biases the study towards only those kids most likely to die (sounds morbid). So what about the more high-functioning kids on the spectrum?

    The next question is causality. This study implies prenatal development involvement. I do know difficult child 3 was born with an outsized head. They have been doing studies on head circumference at birth and soon after, and difficult child 3 actually does not fit the usual picture - kids on the spectrum, according to an earlier study, tend to have smaller than average head circumference at birth but then rapid early growth flips it to outsized. difficult child 3 started out outsized.

    In short - this needs more careful study. And if it is shown to be true, then we need to look at how, and why. However, if it does turn out to be true then perhaps it would be a useful tool on neonatal screening, so intensive therapy can be commenced ASAP.