Breaking News
March 24, 2019 - Enzyme inhibitor stops inflammation and neurodevelopmental disorders in mouse models
March 24, 2019 - Walk, Dance, Clean: Even a Little Activity Helps You Live Longer
March 24, 2019 - Americans used less eye care in 2014 versus 2008
March 24, 2019 - Study finds link between depression in 20s linked to memory loss in 50s
March 24, 2019 - New tool helps physiotherapy students to master complex fine motor skills
March 24, 2019 - The AMR Centre secures £2.3m funding boost
March 24, 2019 - Study examines effects of taking ondansetron during first trimester of pregnancy
March 24, 2019 - Researchers identify a more effective treatment for cancer
March 24, 2019 - Open-source solution for multiparametric optical mapping of the heart’s electrical activity
March 24, 2019 - New nanotechnology approach shows promise in treating triple negative breast cancer
March 24, 2019 - Trevena Announces Publication of APOLLO-1 Results in The Journal of Pain Research Highlighting Oliceridine’s Potential for Management of Moderate-to-Severe Acute Pain
March 24, 2019 - Maternal deaths following C-section 50 times higher in Africa compared to high-income countries
March 24, 2019 - Apple watch could detect irregular heart beat says study
March 24, 2019 - Queen Mary University of London’s BCI boosts radionuclide imaging capabilities with MILabs VECTor technology
March 24, 2019 - Girls should be encouraged to gain more ball skills, shows study
March 24, 2019 - Acute doses of synthetic cannabinoid can impair critical thinking and memory
March 24, 2019 - Presence of bacteria in urine does not always point to infection, shows study
March 24, 2019 - Scientists identify a new role for nerve-supporting cells
March 24, 2019 - Hidden differences between pathology of CTE and Alzheimer’s disease discovered
March 24, 2019 - Knowing causative genes of osteoporosis may open door to more effective treatments
March 24, 2019 - Toilet-seat based cardiovascular monitoring system getting ready to begin commercialization
March 24, 2019 - New model for intensive care identifies factors that send ill patients to ICU
March 24, 2019 - Recommendations Issued for HSCT in Multiple Myeloma
March 24, 2019 - Deep brain stimulation provides sustained relief for severe depression
March 24, 2019 - “Statistical significance” may soon be a thing of past?
March 24, 2019 - Researchers track effects of epigenetic marks carried by sperm chromosomes
March 24, 2019 - AHA News: Family Adopts Three Children With Three Different Heart Conditions
March 24, 2019 - Research into opioid painkillers could provide clues for safer drug development
March 23, 2019 - Lung cancer survivor recounts her lifetime struggles
March 23, 2019 - Radial and femoral approach for PCI achieve similar results in terms of survival
March 23, 2019 - Study sheds light on the optimal timing of coronary angiography in NSTEMI patients
March 23, 2019 - Excess hormones could cause a condition that can lead to blindness in women, study finds
March 23, 2019 - Dramatic shifts in first-time opioid prescriptions bring hope, concern
March 23, 2019 - Antidepressant drugs may not work when neurons are out of shape
March 23, 2019 - TTUHSC El Paso to establish endowed chair in neurology through a major grant
March 23, 2019 - New device approved by FDA for treating patients with moderate-to-severe heart failure
March 23, 2019 - People with peripheral artery disease have lower Omega-3 Index, shows research
March 23, 2019 - Trigger warnings have minimal impact on how people respond to content, shows research
March 23, 2019 - Gilead Announces Data From Two Studies Supporting Further Development of GS-6207, a Novel, Investigational HIV-1 Capsid Inhibitor as a Component of Future Long-Acting HIV Therapies
March 23, 2019 - Selfish genetic elements amplify inflammation and age-related diseases
March 23, 2019 - Study provides new understanding of how the brain recovers from damage caused by stroke
March 23, 2019 - CRISPR/Cas libraries could revolutionize drug discovery
March 23, 2019 - Allergic reaction during pregnancy may alter sexual-development in offspring’s brain
March 23, 2019 - Seeing through a robot’s eyes helps those with profound motor impairments
March 23, 2019 - Recent research shows that ease of breastfeeding after C-section differs culturally
March 23, 2019 - Newly discovered parameters offer more control over efficient release of drugs
March 23, 2019 - ‘De-tabooing’ of abortion- Women would like more support from health care community
March 23, 2019 - Anti-TB drugs can increase susceptibility to Mtb reinfection
March 23, 2019 - New survey indicates need of attention to neglected tropical diseases
March 23, 2019 - Innovative in vitro method to develop easy-to-swallow medicine for children and older people
March 23, 2019 - Sugary drinks could raise risk of early deaths finds study
March 23, 2019 - Lian wins ENGINE grant for stem-cell-based therapy to treat Type 1 diabetes
March 23, 2019 - Overall, Physicians Are Happy and Enjoy Their Lives
March 23, 2019 - Researchers discover how blood vessels protect the brain during inflammation
March 23, 2019 - CDC study shows modest improvement in optimal hospital breastfeeding policy
March 23, 2019 - Family-based prevention program to reduce alcohol use among older teens
March 23, 2019 - Remote monitoring of implanted defibrillators in heart failure patients prevents hospitalizations
March 23, 2019 - Appropriate doffing of personal protective equipment may reduce healthcare worker contamination
March 23, 2019 - Window screens can suppress mosquito populations, reduce malaria in Tanzania
March 23, 2019 - Researchers discover new biomarker for postoperative liver dysfunction
March 23, 2019 - Pregnancy history may be linked to cognitive function in older women, finds study
March 23, 2019 - Study shows ticagrelor is equally safe and effective as clopidogrel after heart attack
March 23, 2019 - FDA Approves First Drug for Postpartum Depression, Zulresso (brexanolone)
March 23, 2019 - New guidelines outline new treatment management for psoriasis
March 23, 2019 - Thermally abused cooking oil may promote progression of breast cancer
March 23, 2019 - High-fructose corn syrup fuels growth of colon tumors in mice
March 23, 2019 - Partnership aims at establishing best practices to promote diversity in clinical trials
March 23, 2019 - New study examines presence of microbes in tap water from residences, office buildings
March 23, 2019 - Early life trauma may affect brain structure, contribute to major depressive disorder
March 23, 2019 - NIH starts clinical trial of drug to treat cravings associated with opioid use disorder
March 23, 2019 - Cervix bacteria, immune factors could be a warning signal of premature birth, reports new research
March 23, 2019 - Worst-ever emergency care performance figures underscore the need to focus on staffing
March 23, 2019 - The Current issue of “The view from here” is concerned with Cancer
March 23, 2019 - Mouse model validates how ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria affect acne
March 23, 2019 - Individual amygdala neurons respond to touch, imagery and sounds
March 23, 2019 - Combination of two topical creams can prevent cancer
March 23, 2019 - Study suggests depression screening when assessing African-Americans for schizophrenia
March 23, 2019 - New electronic support system for choosing drug treatment based on patient’s genotype
March 23, 2019 - First-of-its-kind study provides pregnancy statistics of imprisoned U.S. women
March 23, 2019 - Marinus Pharmaceuticals Initiates Phase 3 Study in Children with PCDH19-Related Epilepsy
Scientists reverse a sensory impairment in mice with autism

Scientists reverse a sensory impairment in mice with autism

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print
“We’re trying to identify early brain processes that will impact behaviors in children when they are older,” said Anubhuti Goel, a postdoctoral researcher in neurology at UCLA and first author of the study. Credit: University of California, Los Angeles

Using a genetic technique that allows certain neurons in the brain to be switched on or off, UCLA scientists reversed a sensory impairment in mice with symptoms of autism, enabling them to learn a sensory task as quickly as healthy mice.

The findings, which appear in the journal Nature Neuroscience, offer an intriguing glimpse of a potential strategy to help people with autism make sense of what their eyes see.

In humans, the ability to perceive visual information is critical to learning of all kinds, including the interpretation of social cues. In children with autism, avoiding eye contact and struggling to understand people’s feelings may be rooted in how their brains process visual information.

“The focus in autism has been trying to tackle social impairment. But if there is a deficit in learning due to being unable to process certain kinds of sensory input, it affects your development,” said Anubhuti Goel, a postdoctoral researcher in neurology at UCLA and the study’s first author. “We’re trying to identify early brain processes that will impact behaviors in children when they are older.”

For this experiment, Goel and colleagues at UCLA used mice with a similar mutation in the FMR1 gene as humans with fragile X syndrome, a genetic condition that is the most commonly inherited cause of autism in humans. Mice with the mutation share a number of autism symptoms with people with fragile X syndrome, including anxiety, reduced social interaction and an overreaction to sensory stimuli such as texture and sound.

The researchers trained mice on a visual discrimination task, where the goal for the mice was to lick a drop of water in response to a specific visual cue on a screen. A pattern of parallel, black-and-white lines slanting a certain way signified the presence of a water drop; slanted a different way, there was no water drop. If the mice took too long to decide, the water drop disappeared—vacuumed up by the scientists.

On average, normal control mice mastered the strategy for getting water in about three days, whereas the mice with autism typically required five to nine days.

By recording brain activity in the mice, researchers found that the visual cortex of the fragile X syndrome mice, or FXS mice, had fewer and less finely tuned neurons called pyramidal cells. These excitatory neurons—the “gas pedal” in the brain—found in rodents, monkeys and humans, are responsible for perceiving the orientation of visual information, for example, the angle of the lines in the experiment. In addition, researchers found reduced activity in parvalbumin neurons, which are inhibitory neurons—the “brake pedal”—that work in concert with pyramidal cells, kicking them into gear and “tuning” them to respond to specific, or more general, bits of visual information.

The researchers wondered if they could prod those parvalbumin cells into working harder, which would in turn stimulate the pyramidal cells.

They targeted the parvalbumin cells with a genetic technique called DREADD, which stands for Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs. They injected the fragile X syndrome mice with a virus carrying the genes for these special designer receptors; once inside the mouse’s parvalbumin cells, the virus generates the DREADD receptors. Next, a drug administered intravenously reached those receptors and activated the parvalbumin cells.

Once the fragile X syndrome mice with the designer receptors received the drug, they could learn the visual discrimination task as quickly as their healthy counterparts did. The impact of the designer drug lasted for three to four hours.

“These experiments shed light on the brain circuit problems behind those difficulties in autism, and hint at directions we can pursue for treatment in the future,” Goel said.

Goel’s next step will be figuring out what happens in the visual discrimination task with sensory distractors, such as flashing lights or loud sounds. Many autistic children and adults are unable to tune out such distractors, which could contribute to poor performance in school and anxiety in social settings. Fragile X syndrome mice, too, have sensory over-reactivity, which could impede their learning.


Explore further:
Drug may reverse imbalance linked to autism symptoms

More information:
Anubhuti Goel et al. Impaired perceptual learning in a mouse model of Fragile X syndrome is mediated by parvalbumin neuron dysfunction and is reversible, Nature Neuroscience (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41593-018-0231-0

Journal reference:
Nature Neuroscience

Provided by:
University of California, Los Angeles

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles