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Keywords:

  • autism spectrum disorder (ASD);
  • neuron;
  • synapse;
  • epilepsy;
  • endophenotype;
  • fragile X syndrome (FXS);
  • microcephaly with seizures (MCSZ);
  • mental retardation;
  • connectome;
  • brain circuit;
  • axon;
  • dendrite;
  • Early Start Denver Model (ESDM);
  • mirror neurons;
  • Asperger's syndrome;
  • specific language impairment (SLI);
  • joint attention

Autism and its highly variable symptomology were the themes of the 23rd Annual International Symposium of the Center for the Study of Gene Structure and Function at Hunter College in New York City, held 15 January 2010. The meeting explored the extensive research on autism from several perspectives—integrating research on genetics, neuroscience, and behavior—from researchers presenting new and innovative approaches to understanding the autism spectrum. Early diagnosis, intervention, and genetics were major themes because they are seen as essential areas in which progress is needed before the rise in numbers of cases of autism throughout the world, which some describe as approaching an epidemic, can be stemmed. Several genetic, neurobiological, and behavioral markers of autism have been identified that may ultimately provide the basis for early identification, and that presently define the key areas requiring intensive intervention.