The Social Brain: A Beautiful Mind

What images come to mind when you hear the phrase social brain? Do you think of children running around on a playground laughing together? Do you think of problem solving or imagine colorful brain scans? Do you think of autism? These are the questions that inspired a breadth of autism research that was recently evaluated by a team of Waisman scientists and compiled into a new literature review.

Connecting research and clinics to help those with autism

One of the goals of the study is to discover how genetic variations in young people with ASD are related to brain changes that lead to clinical symptoms of the disorder, such as impaired social interaction and repetitive behaviors.

“If you think about it, in between genes and clinical symptoms [of ASD] are changes in brain development,” says Lainhart. “Genes first impact brain development, and as a result of changes in how the brain develops, there are clinical manifestations of what we recognize as ASD.”

Frayed nerve bundle may spur autism’s motor, social deficits

A new study by Waisman Center investigators Andy Alexander, PhD, professor of medical physics and psychiatry, Janet Lainhart, MD, professor of psychiatry and Brittany Travers, PhD, assistant professor of kinesiology, indicates a nerve bundle at the base of the brain is structurally compromised in people with autism. The study was recently featured by the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative.