Role for Antibodies in Altering Behavior and Movement

Jane E. Libbey and Robert S. Fujinami


Immune responses to central nervous system components have been considered as a potential factor in the development of autism. At the 8th Annual International Meeting for Autism Research, held in Chicago, IL in May 2009, an Invited Educational Symposium entitled “Menage A Trois: Immune System, Brain and Behavior—Relationships Between the Three” was held to discuss the possible pathogenic role played by antibodies in the development of disorders that manifest with cognitive and behavioral alterations. The following paper represents a summary of that symposium plus new information, published since the symposium, pertaining to a possible role for antibodies in autism. © 2010 INSAR/Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Article Citation: Autism Res 2010, 3: 147–152. DOI: 10.1002/aur.144

RPP25 is Developmentally Regulated in Prefrontal Cortex and Expressed at Decreased Levels in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Hsien-Sung Huang, Iris Cheung, and Schahram Akbarian


The molecular mechanisms that contribute to brain dysfunction in autism are only partially understood. It is thought that in a portion of patients, the so called inhibitory interneurons are affected. These are a subset of nerve cells residing in the cerebral cortex (cortex is the outer structure of the human brain which is important for cognition and higher order information processing). These inhibitory interneurons are important to maintain the balance between excitation and inhibition of nerve cell electrical activities, and thereby these cells are important for the coordinated activity of large assemblies of neurons in the cortex. In this study, we profiled, for the first time, the expression of over 40 messenger RNA molecules in a postmortem brain cohort from subjects on the autism spectrum and matched controls. We observed deficits in expression for one RNA molecule, called RPP25, which is located in a portion of chromosome 15 recently identified as genetic risk factor for autism. The results of this study will provide a valuable guidepost for further studies of the portion of chromosome 15 that may contribute to the genetic risk for autism. © 2010 INSAR/Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Article Citation: Autism Res 2010, 3: 153–161. DOI: 10.1002/aur.141

Restricted and Repetitive Behaviors in Toddlers and Preschoolers with Autism Spectrum Disorders Based on the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS)

So Hyun Kim and Catherine Lord


Restricted and repetitive behaviors (RRBs) have long been considered one of the core characteristics of autism. RRBs include a very broad category of behaviors such as preoccupation with restricted patterns of interest (e.g. having very specific knowledge about vacuum cleaners), adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines (e.g. insisting on taking a certain route to school), repetitive motor manners (e.g., hand flapping), and preoccupation with parts of objects (e.g. peering at the wheels of toy cars while spinning them). Most research on RRBs has used caregiver reports either through interviews or questionnaires; thus, the purpose of this study was to use clinicians' observations of RRBs, made during the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS: Lord, Rutter, DiLavore & Risi, 2000) to discover how RRBs change over time in very young children who may have ASD and what other factors are related to having RRBs. The ADOS is a 45 minute long, semi-structured, standardized assessment of communication, social interaction and play, which was administered to 121 children with autism, 71 with pervasive developmental disorders-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), 90 with a nonspectrum disorder, and 173 children who were typically developing. Even during a relatively short-term observation in the context of an office visit, we found that RRBs occurred more frequently and were more severe in young children with autism and PDD-NOS diagnoses than children in other groups. Diagnostic group differences also emerged in the associations between RRB scores and participant characteristics (e.g. age, NVIQ scores, etc). We also examined different subtypes of RRBs and their associations with NVIQ, age, diagnosis, and gender. © 2010 INSAR/Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Article Citation: Autism Res 2010, 3: 162–173. DOI: 10.1002/aur.142

More Than Maths and Mindreading: Sex Differences in Empathizing/Systemizing Covariance

Jeffrey M. Valla, Barbara L. Ganzel, Keith J. Yoder, Grace M. Chen, Laura T. Lyman, Anthony P. Sidari, Alex E. Keller, Jeffrey W. Maendel, Jordan E. Perlman, Stephanie K.L. Wong, and Matthew K. Belmonte


Empathising is the ability to make sense of people in terms of their thoughts, beliefs, and changeable states of mind, whereas systemising is the ability to make sense of objects in terms of their absolute and deterministic rules of behaviour. Autism spectrum conditions (ASC) confer remarkable superiorities at systemising, and at the same time deficits in empathising. The genetic and environmental factors underlying ASC are many, and probably every human being carries some of these factors. Autistic empathising and systemising traits, therefore, are likely to be present throughout the population, to one degree or another. In the general population, though, does strong systemising necessarily come along with weak empathising as it does in autism, or are there many people who are good at both empathising and systemising simultaneously? Knowing the answer to this question can tell us whether it might be possible for therapies to preserve ASC's cognitive strengths in systemising at the same time as they ameliorate the deficits in empathising. We find that the answer depends on sex: men who are good systemisers tend to be poor empathisers, whereas many women are strong at both empathising and systemising independently. Men seem to compensate for such deficits in empathising by applying systemising skills to problems of empathy - for example, in men but not in women, the ability to analyse a geometric figure in detail is associated with the ability to recognise faces. Furthermore, in men, being in a highly systemizing field of study (e.g. maths or physics as opposed to government or literature) is more closely related to weak empathising skills than to strong systemising skills, whereas in women, systemising fields are more related to strong systemising abilities—so it seems that when it comes to selecting an occupation men's choices may be determined more by their weaknesses than by their strengths. It's crucial to note that all these relationships exist not necessarily for individual men and women, but rather describe the whole population of men and the whole population of women: these results for groups of women and groups of men do not allow inferences about a particular man's deficit in empathising or a particular woman's strength in empathising. © 2010 INSAR/Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Article Citation: Autism Res 2010, 3: 174–184. DOI: 10.1002/aur.143

Association of Autistic Spectrum Disorder with Season of Birth and Conception in a UK Cohort

Karen J. Hebert, Laura L. Miller, and Carol J. Joinson


There is evidence from previous research for an association between Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and season of birth. A number of studies found a peak in March and spring births but this has not been consistent across the literature. This study investigates whether there is an association between ASD and season of birth in a UK cohort- the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. We also examine whether there is a link between ASD and season of conception. We found evidence that conception in the summer months was associated with a higher rate of ASD. The data also suggested a concordant peak in spring births in children with ASD. Future research should be aimed at identifying mechanisms underlying the link between ASD and seasons of birth and conception. © 2010 INSAR/Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Article Citation: Autism Res 2010, 3: 185–190. DOI: 10.1002/aur.136

Comparison of Visual Sensitivity to Human and Object Motion in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Martha D. Kaiser, Lara Delmolino, James W. Tanaka, and Maggie Shiffrar


Because Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) involves significant social difficulties, it is important to understand how people with ASD detect social information. Human movement is a rich source of social information. Typical observers are better able to detect the presence of human movement than equally complex, non-human movement. We examined whether observers with ASD also show enhanced visual sensitivity to human movement. Three groups of participants (young adults with ASD, typically developing young adults, and typically developing children) viewed brief and systematically degraded movies that depicted either a moving person or a moving object. Half of the movies depicted coherent human motion or coherent tractor motion. The other half of the movies depicted scrambled human or tractor motion. Participants viewed these movies one at a time in random order. Typical observers were better able to detect the moving person than the moving tractor. Observers with ASD detected both equally well. These results suggest that typical observers have visual motion perception systems that are tuned for the detection of human movement while observers with ASD do not. This result is consistent with the hypothesis that the visual systems of individuals with ASD may not differentiate objects and people in the way that typical visual systems do. © 2010 INSAR/Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Article Citation: Autism Res 2010, 3: 191–195. DOI: 10.1002/aur.137