Neuroscience

The possibility that autism is more common in offspring of older parents has generated considerable interest. To investigate the theory, a study using data from 10 US study sites participating in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, was developed to examine the relation between parental age at delivery and the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Confirmation of such an association has important public health implications in light of increasing trends in recent decades for couples to delay having children.
Regular aerobic exercise keeps you physically healthy, but scientists are beginning to uncover evidence that it may also improve your cognition. Researchers writing in Neuroscience say they have found that regular exercise speeds learning and improves blood flow to the brain.

While there is ample evidence of the beneficial effects of exercise on cognition in animal models, it has been unclear whether the same holds true for humans. The new study tested the hypothesis in monkeys and provides information that is more comparable to human physiology as a result.
The word "inclusion" sounds simple. In fact, though, it can mean many things to many people - which is part of the reason it's so tough to implement.   For example...

There's "partial inclusion," wherein a child with autism is included for brief periods of time or in selected settings. In school, partial inclusion could mean "inclusion only in math," or "inclusion only in music," etc.

There's "full inclusion with support," in which the child with autism is physically in a setting with typically developing children, but expectations are modified and supports (such as an aide) are put in place. Sometimes this works; just as often the child with autism is physically present but emotionally and intellectually absent.
Anyone who has worked with children with autism knows that, based on symptoms alone, this disorder is comprised of several different types. Yet, surprisingly, no authoritative study exists to validate this supposition. That is about to change.

For the first time ever, a long-term study of boys and girls with and without autism is being  conducted. Jam-packed with scientific evaluations of each participant that will provide data scientists can use for decades to come, this study is destined to determine once and for all if there are subtypes of autism, and, if so, exactly what those subtypes are.  This ambitious study is taking place at the UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute.
Blythe Corbett’s insights may be unique among researchers developing new interventions for children with autism spectrum disorders – at the M.I.N.D. Institute or elsewhere. Corbett’s Social Emotional NeuroScience Endocrinology (SENSE) lab focuses chiefly on analysis of the behavioral and biological effects of the stress hormone cortisol on children with autism. But her work is informed by the eclectic professional experience of someone with a background in autism diagnosis, brain analysis, behavioral intervention – and acting.
For me, parenting a child with autism sometimes feels like taking high school physics.

I was never a science-minded kid. I was a writer. I did theater. I was all about the liberal arts. But, science and me? We never really hit it off.

Despite that, I enrolled in AP Physics in my senior year. At the time, I was swayed by the certainty of a classmate who told me that without physics I would never make it through college – never mind through life. She’s probably a nuclear physicist now – I never thought to ask her about her plans for the future. Instead, I just took her advice and signed up for the toughest physics class my high school offered.
Researchers have identified the brain circuit that underlies our ability to resist instant gratification in order to earn a better payoff.

The effort provides insight, scientists say, into the capacity for "mental time travel," also known as episodic future thought, that enables humans to make choices with high long-term benefits. Results of the research are published in Neuron.

Several models have been proposed to explain the neural basis of assigning relative value to multiple rewards at different points in time (also known as "intertemporal decision making") in humans. Until now, however, many questions remained unanswered, and the brain regions and mechanisms involved in this process were unclear.
Mirror neurons are the cells in the brain that fire not only when we perform a particular action but also when we watch someone else perform that same action.

Neuroscientists believe this "mirroring" is the mechanism by which we can "read" the minds of others and empathize with them. It's how we "feel" someone's pain, how we discern a grimace from a grin, a smirk from a smile.

However, there was no proof that mirror neurons existed — only suspicion and indirect evidence. Now, researching writing in Current Biology say they have for the first time made a direct recording of mirror neurons in the human brain.
About a dozen teens with social-communication disorders sit in a tight circle, cradled in couches and chairs in a conference room at the UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute. They listen intently as Marjorie Solomon, the leader of the Institute’s social skills training program, guides them in a discussion of what it means to have and be a friend.

“What makes you trust another person?” Solomon asks. “Do you make friends easily?  Do you pick friends who are similar to you?” she asks.

The answers spill out, sometimes freely, sometimes with more coaxing. “I trust other people when I know they can keep a secret,” one participant volunteers. “Someone who will help me out in a jam,” another says. “Someone who will stick by me over time,” offers another.
A study published in Current Biology suggests that children with Williams Syndrome are not inherently racist like the rest of the population and may help experts develop interventions designed to reduce discriminatory attitudes towards minority groups.

Previous studies have shown that stereotypes are found ubiquitously in typically developing children—as early as age 3—as they are in adults, said Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg of the Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim/University of Heidelberg. Even children with autism display racial stereotypes, despite profound difficulties in daily social interaction and a general failure to show adapted social knowledge.