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Roadmap to unravelling autism revealed (NB I loathe the term ‘roadmap’ applied to anything that isn’t a roadmap – but it’s the title of the article so I’ve kept it)

From the page:
The intersection of genetics and neuroscience may hold the key to autism, says a leading UK researcher. By twinning the Autism Genome Project with brain imaging studies, it may finally be possible to reach an understanding of the complex and highly variable disorder.

“What we are trying to do is identify the function of genes and how they affect the way the individuals process information and the structure of the brain. This is the future of research in this area,” said Simon Baron-Cohen, of the Autism Research Centre, University of Cambridge, UK, at a press conference in London.

Specific genes, says Baron-Cohen, may underlie the intriguing differences in the development and structure of autistic brains. Children with autism have been shown to have larger brains than average.

Functional imaging studies have also shown that autistic minds show decreased activity and connectivity in areas of the so-called “social brain” – regions important for language, face recognition and emotion.

Genetics will not hold all the answers, notes Patrick Bolton at the Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK. Some identical twins show a marked difference in the severity of their symptoms, despite sharing exactly the same genes.