AUCD Network Press Releases



Zebrafish Advance as a Model Organism for Fragile X Syndrome

Fragile X Syndrome is the most common inherited form of autism, caused by variants in the FMR1 gene. Scientists have developed animal models of the disorder to better understand the consequences of the genetic mutation and to see if they can intervene. In a recent study in The Journal of Neuroscience, Geoffrey Goodhill, PhD, Professor of Neuroscience and Developmental Biology at Washington University School of Medicine, and his team describe the utility of zebrafish larvae in recapitulating features of Fragile X.



Spontaneously arising variants in FRMD5 gene are associated with a novel neurological disorder

A study led by Dr. Hugo Bellen, investigator at the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute (NRI) at Texas Children's Hospital (TCH) and distinguished service professor at the Baylor College of Medicine (BCM), reports de novo variants in a gene involved in regulating cellular motility to be the underlying cause of a new neurological disorder characterized by intellectual disability, motor dysfunction, seizures, abnormal eye movements etc.

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Testing Inclusivity and Innovation Benefits All

Researchers at UW School of Medicine, one of AUCD's Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Research Centers, wanted to find a way to help students with I/DD and staff safely return to schools while maintaining the needed standard of care. Since masking and social distancing practices were difficult to enforce in this school setting, researchers believed that increased testing would help control the spread of COVID-19.



The prose of Dr. Seuss shines a light on how the brain processes speech

Researchers at the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience at the University of Rochester, one of AUCD's Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Research Centers, have expanded the understanding of how the brain is engaged during complex audiovisual speech perception. The study now out in NeuroImage, describes how listening and watching a narrator tell a story activates an extensive network of brain regions involved in sensory processing, multisensory integration, and cognitive functions associated with the comprehension of the story content. Understanding the involvement of this larger network has the potential to give researchers new ways to investigate neurodevelopmental disorders.

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Mild traumatic brain injury increases risk of behavioral and emotional problems in kids

Researchers at the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience, one of AUCD's Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Research Centers, found children with a mild TBI experienced a 15-percent increased risk of an emotional or behavioral problem. The risk was the highest in children around ten years old. This study used MRI and behavioral data from the Adolescence Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study. The University of Rochester is one of 21 sites collecting data for this study.



Inclusive, Accessible Health Care the Focus of Free Continuing Medical Education Course

Primary care providers can receive three CME credit hours while learning how to provide better care to their patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

A new Continuing Medical Education (CME) course aimed at facilitating more equitable and accessible health care for patients with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD) is available through the University of Arizona Sonoran Center for Excellence in Disabilities.

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The brains of children with autism may not always 'see' body language

Noticing and understanding what it means when a person leans into a conversation or takes a step back and crosses their arms is a vital part of human communication. Researchers at the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience at the University of Rochester have found that children with autism spectrum disorder may not always process body movements effectively, especially if they are distracted by something else.



Reduced levels of IGF-1 levels in the brain found to be an underlying cause for infantile spasms, hinting at a novel therapy

A breakthrough study from Baylor College of Medicine IDDRC-one of AUCD's Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Research Centers (IDDRCs)-has found an underlying cause & novel therapy for infantile spasms, a severe epilepsy in babies.

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Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (TN IDDRC, UCEDD, LEND) ASD Study Explores Link Between Repetitive Motion, Depression

Research into depression risk and resilience factors for adults with ASD is also critical to guide proper screening and intervention efforts, said Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (VKC) (TN IDDRC, UCEDD, LEND) member Jessica Schwartzman, Ph.D., author on a Frontiers in Psychiatry paper that examined the connection between repetitive behaviors and depression in autistic adults.

UW Medicine


Epo Does Not Help with Neurological Damage to Newborns

New research by UW School of Medicine, one of AUCD's Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Research Centers, finds that adding erythropoietin to cooling therapy for term newborns w/ birth asphyxia has no benefit over cooling therapy alone. The findings contrast with results from small trials in which erythropoietin appeared safe and effective, noted Dr. Sandra "Sunny" Juul, senior author of the study. The Alan Hodson Endowed Professor of Pediatrics at the UW School of Medicine, Juul is also the UW Medicine chief of neonatology (newborn medical care) and practices at Seattle Children's.



Walking Gives the Brain a 'Step-up' in Function for Some

It has long been thought that when walking is combined with a task - both suffer. Researchers at AUCD's Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC), Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience at the University of Rochester found that this is not always the case. Some young and healthy people improve performance on cognitive tasks while walking by changing the use of neural resources. However, this does not necessarily mean you should work on a big assignment while walking off that cake from the night before.



Visual System Brain Development Implicated in Infants who Develop Autism

Researchers at AUCD's Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC), Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities, analyzed magnetic resonance images collected during infancy from younger siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). They found that brain changes in the size, white matter integrity and functional connectivity of the visual processing systems of six-month olds are evident well before they show symptoms of autism as toddlers, and related to the severity of autism traits in their older ASD siblings, as reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry.



Scientists Find Oleic Acid is Key to Activating the Brain's 'fountain of youth'

Cognitive difficulties and learning disabilities are common in individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders and intellectual disabilities. While searching for new ways to prevent or treat these and other related conditions, a team at Baylor College of Medicine and the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute (Duncan NRI) at Texas Children's Hospital identified a missing piece of the puzzle of how specific types of learning and memory are sustained and regulated in the brain.

Black and white image of the amygdala in the color red.


Scientists Identify Overgrowth of Key Brain Structure in Babies Who Later Develop Autism

Research led by Mark Shen, PhD, Heather Hazlett, PhD, and Joseph Piven, MD, from UNC-Chapel Hill is the first to demonstrate overgrowth of the amygdala in the first year of life, before babies show most of the behavioral symptoms that later consolidate into a diagnosis of autism. This overgrowth may be unique to autism, as babies with fragile X syndrome show a different brain growth pattern.



Can Early Behavioral Therapy Interventions Improve Developmental Trajectories in Down Syndrome

While children with Down syndrome have broad developmental delays and quite often have difficulty with challenging behaviors, there are no standardized behavioral strategies or therapies to treat them. Without a well-researched therapeutic standard, there is great variability in the quality of the services offered and a lack of evidence that can be drawn on by advocates for improved health care services. Dr. Nicole Baumer is currently pioneering the JASPER Clinical Trial research program in Down syndrome. The main objective is to determine whether an intensive, targeted early behavioral therapy intervention can improve developmental trajectories in Down syndrome.



CHOP Researchers Show Early Developmental Delays Predict Poor Long-term Outcomes in Leigh Syndrome Patients

Researchers from the Mitochondrial Medicine Frontier Program at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) have found that developmental delays associated with Leigh syndrome, the most common pediatric mitochondrial disorder, may occur earlier than previously recognized - even before metabolic stroke and regression - which could provide clinicians with an opportunity for earlier diagnosis and therapeutic interventions. The findings were recently published online by the journal Molecular Genetics and Metabolism.

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University of Massachusetts Boston Institute Launches International Fellowship Program on Inclusive Civic Engagement

The Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) at the University of Massachusetts Boston, in partnership with Humanity & Inclusion (HI), has been awarded a grant from the US Department of State to develop and implement the Professional Fellows Program on Inclusive Civic Engagement, a new professional program for emerging leaders in Africa to exchange and implement best practices for inclusive civic engagement.


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