1. Chown N, Annable JL, Beardon L, Howard N. A response to the terms in Shah et al’s ‘Neurodevelopmental disorders and neurodiversity: definition of terms from Scotland’s National Autism Implementation Team’. Br J Psychiatry;2023 (Apr);222(4):157-159.
The Scottish National Autism Implementation Team’s neurodiversity terms are a valiant, but flawed, attempt to reconcile different worldviews on neurodiversity. The aim of harmonising different perspectives is laudable; however, we disagree with the use of ‘societal norms’ in the authors’ framework of terms and challenge some of their proposed definitions.
2. Embon I, Cukier S, Iorio A, Barttfeld P, Solovey G. Is visual metacognition associated with autistic traits? A regression analysis shows no link between visual metacognition and Autism-Spectrum Quotient scores. Conscious Cogn;2023 (Mar 17);110:103502.
Metacognition -the human ability to recognize correct decisions- is a key cognitive process linked to learning and development. Several recent studies investigated the relationship between metacognition and autism. However, the evidence is still inconsistent. While some studies reported autistic people having lower levels of metacognitive sensitivity, others did not. Leveraging the fact that autistic traits are present in the general population, our study investigated the relationship between visual metacognition and autistic traits in a sample of 360 neurotypical participants. We measured metacognition as the correspondence between confidence and accuracy in a visual two alternative forced choice task. Autistic-traits were assessed through the Autism-spectrum Quotient (AQ) score. A regression analysis revealed no statistically significant association between autistic traits and metacognition or confidence. Furthermore, we found no link between AQ sub-scales and metacognition. We do not find support for the hypothesis that autistic traits are associated with metacognition in the general population.
3. Freedman AN, Clark J, Eaves LA, Roell K, Oran A, Koval L, Rager J, Santos HP, Jr., Kuban K, Joseph RM, Frazier J, Marsit CJ, Burt AA, O’Shea TM, Fry RC. A multi-omic approach identifies an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) regulatory complex of functional epimutations in placentas from children born preterm. Autism Res;2023 (Mar 20)
Children born preterm are at heightened risk of neurodevelopmental impairments, including Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The placenta is a key regulator of neurodevelopmental processes, though the precise underlying molecular mechanisms remain unclear. Here, we employed a multi-omic approach to identify placental transcriptomic and epigenetic modifications related to ASD diagnosis at age 10, among children born preterm. Working with the extremely low gestational age (ELGAN) cohort, we hypothesized that a pro-inflammatory placental environment would be predictive of ASD diagnosis at age 10. Placental messenger RNA (mRNA) expression, CpG methylation, and microRNA (miRNA) expression were compared among 368 ELGANs (28 children diagnosed with ASD and 340 children without ASD). A total of 111 genes displayed expression levels in the placenta that were associated with ASD. Within these ASD-associated genes is an ASD regulatory complex comprising key genes that predicted ASD case status. Genes with expression that predicted ASD case status included Ewing Sarcoma Breakpoint Region 1 (EWSR1) (OR: 6.57 (95% CI: 2.34, 23.58)) and Bromodomain Adjacent To Zinc Finger Domain 2A (BAZ2A) (OR: 0.12 (95% CI: 0.03, 0.35)). Moreover, of the 111 ASD-associated genes, nine (8.1%) displayed associations with CpG methylation levels, while 14 (12.6%) displayed associations with miRNA expression levels. Among these, LRR Binding FLII Interacting Protein 1 (LRRFIP1) was identified as being under the control of both CpG methylation and miRNAs, displaying an OR of 0.42 (95% CI: 0.17, 0.95). This gene, as well as others identified as having functional epimutations, plays a critical role in immune system regulation and inflammatory response. In summary, a multi-omic approach was used to identify functional epimutations in the placenta that are associated with the development of ASD in children born preterm, highlighting future avenues for intervention.
4. Liu H, Huang M, Yu X. Blood and hair copper levels in childhood autism spectrum disorder: a meta-analysis based on case-control studies. Rev Environ Health;2023 (Mar 20)
OBJECTIVES: The association between copper levels and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been a controversial topic. This study investigated relationship between copper levels and ASD. CONTENT: The following databases are searched until April 2022: PubMed, EMBASE and Web of Science. Combined effect size standardized mean differences (SMD) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were calculated with Stata 12.0. In this meta-analysis, 29 case-control studies were included, which included 2,504 children with ASD and 2,419 healthy controls. The copper levels in hair (SMD: -1.16, 95% CI: -1.73 to -0.58) was significantly lower in ASD children than healthy controls. The copper levels in blood (SMD: 0.10, 95% CI: -0.12 to 0.32) not significantly compare ASD with controls. SUMMARY AND OUTLOOK: Copper may be associated with the development of ASD in children.
5. Parenteau CI, Lampinen LL, Ghods SS, Taylor JL, Adams RE, Bishop SL, Zheng S. Correction: Self-reported Everyday Sources of Happiness and Unhappiness in Autistic Adults. J Autism Dev Disord;2023 (Mar 20)
6. Shamim S, Khan N, Greene DL, Habiba UE, Umer A. The promise of autologous and allogeneic cellular therapies in the clinical trials of autism spectrum disorder. Regen Med;2023 (Mar 20)
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a consortium of developmental conditions. As scientists have not yet identified the exact underlying cause for these disorders, it is not easy to narrow down a singular therapy to propose a reliable cure. The preponderance of research suggests that stem-cell therapy improves aspects of outcome measure scales in patients with ASD; therefore, future studies should give us more confidence in the results. This overview considers the data that have emerged from the small set of published trials conducted using different approaches in stem-cell therapy for ASD, evaluates their results and proposes additional steps that could be taken if this field of endeavor is to be pursued further.
7. Wall CA, Sabatos-DeVito M, Franz L, Howard J, Major S, Bey A, Dawson G. Eye-tracking measures of social versus nonsocial attention are related to level of social engagement during naturalistic caregiver-child interactions in autistic children. Autism Res;2023 (Mar 20)
Eye-tracking (ET) measures indexing social attention have been proposed as sensitive measures related to autism, but less is known about the relationship between social and nonsocial attention and naturalistic measures of social engagement and whether sex moderates this relationship. This study investigated ET measures of social attention as predictors of social engagement during a naturalistic caregiver-child interaction (CCI). Participants included 132, 2-7-year-old autistic children (77% male) and their caregivers. Participants engaged in a CCI and an ET task in which they viewed a video of an actor making dyadic bids toward the child with toys in the background. Pearson correlations and multiple regression analyzes revealed that ET measures correlated with social engagement behaviors, including degree of attention to the caregiver and objects, joint engagement with the caregiver, and language-based joint engagement. Children who spent more time looking at toys were more likely to be unengaged during social interaction. Those who spent more time looking at the actor’s mouth were more likely to engage in coordinated play with and without language. Sex moderated the relationship between time looking at toys and unengagement during play; males who spent more time looking at toys spent more time unengaged during play, whereas females who spent more time looking at toys spent less time unengaged during play. Overall, ET measures of social and nonsocial attention correlated with the level of social engagement during naturalistic play, with some sex differences. Eye-tracking measures that predict interaction patterns may provide insight into promoting social engagement between caregivers and their autistic children and can inform outcome monitoring and intervention development.
8. Xiao L, Huo X, Wang Y, Li W, Li M, Wang C, Wang F, Sun T. A bibliometric analysis of global research status and trends in neuromodulation techniques in the treatment of autism spectrum disorder. BMC Psychiatry;2023 (Mar 20);23(1):183.
BACKGROUND: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disease which has risen to become the main cause of childhood disability, placing a heavy burden on families and society. To date, the treatment of patients with ASD remains a complicated problem, for which neuromodulation techniques are a promising solution. This study analyzed the global research situation of neuromodulation techniques in the treatment of ASD from 1992 to 2022, aiming to explore the global research status and frontier trends in this field. METHODS: The Web of Science (WoS) was searched for literature related to neuromodulation techniques for ASD from 1992 to October 2022. A knowledge atlas to analyze collaboration among countries, institutions, authors, publishing journals, reference co-citation patterns, keyword co-occurrence, keyword clustering, and burst keywords was constructed using Rstudio software, CiteSpace, and VOSviewer. RESULTS: In total, 392 publications related to the treatment of ASD using neuromodulation techniques were included. Despite some fluctuations, the number of publications in this field has shown a growing trend in recent years. The United States and Deakin University are the leading country and institution in this field, respectively. The greatest contributing authors are Peter G Enticott, Manuel F Casanova, and Paul B Fitzgerald et al. The most prolific and cited journal is Brain Stimulation and the most commonly co-cited journal is The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. The most frequently cited article was that of Simone Rossi (Safety, ethical considerations, and application guidelines for the use of transverse magnetic stimulation in clinical practice and research, 2009). « Obsessive-compulsive disorder, » « transcranial direct current stimulation, » « working memory, » « double blind » and « adolescent » were identified as hotspots and frontier trends of neuromodulation techniques in the treatment of ASD. CONCLUSION: The application of neuromodulation techniques for ASD has attracted the attention of researchers worldwide. Restoring the social ability and improving the comorbid symptoms in autistic children and adults have always been the focus of research. Neuromodulation techniques have demonstrated significant advantages and effects on these issues. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) are new therapeutic methods introduced in recent years, and are also directions for further exploration.