Low dose exposure to organochlorine pesticides linked o cognitive impairment

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people

HAVING AN AUDIENCE MAY HELP YOU PERFORM BETTER

According to researchers, when people are aware they are being observed, brain areas associated with social awareness and reward activate a part of the brain that affects motor control, helping them to perform better at skilled tasks. READ MORE…
dna

VARIANTS IN NON-CODING DNA CONTRIBUTE TO INHERITED AUTISM RISK

Researchers report newly identified risk factors differ from currently known genetic causes of autism. The variants identified do not alter the genes directly, but disrupt the neighboring DNA control elements that turn genes on or off. Additionally, the variants do not occur as new mutations in autistic children, but are inherited from parents. READ MORE…
face

ALGORITHM WORKS TO SILENCE ONLINE CHATROOM SEX PREDATORS

A new computer algorithm may help to identify sexual predators who target children in chatrooms. The algorithm, dubbed CATT, can identify language differences and self-disclosure in conversations to provide a risk assessment of potential predators, researchers report. READ MORE…

How the digestive tract communicates with the brain

Autism Like Behaviors in Children Linked to Low Vitamin D Levels in Mothers

Autism Like Behaviors in Children Linked to Low Vitamin D Levels in Mothers

Summary: Researchers have identified a link between low vitamin D levels in pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, and autism like behaviors in their offspring. The study reveals low levels vitamin D in mothers may be associated with altered brain development that can lead to social behavioral deficits in their children.

Source: Society for Endocrinology.

Low levels of vitamin D during pregnancy and breast feeding may be related to an unusual pattern of brain development that can lead to differences in social behaviour of children in later life, according to a study published in the Journal of Endocrinology. Rats with vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy and lactation produced offspring that displayed altered social behaviours in adulthood. Differences in social behaviours are a hallmark of numerous human conditions, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and these findings provide further evidence of the importance of maternal vitamin D levels during pregnancy for brain development of offspring.

ASD is a lifelong condition that ranges in severity and impacts on how individuals interact and communicate with the world. Human studies have found that lower levels of maternal Vitamin D during pregnancy are associated with an increased risk of ASD in children. However, the biological mechanisms underpinning this relationship remain unclear.

To examine how maternal vitamin D levels may influence brain development, Dr Caitlin Wyrwoll and colleagues at the University of Western Australia, assessed alterations in markers of brain function and social behaviours of adult rats, born to mothers that were vitamin D deficient during pregnancy and lactation. They found that rats with vitamin D-deficient mothers displayed abnormal social behaviours, altered brain chemistry and impaired learning and memory.

Dr Caitlin Wyrwoll states, “Our work reinforces that vitamin D levels in early life influence brain development and can impact on how the brain functions in later life.”

pregnant belly

Dr Wyrwoll comments, “We know that early life environment can be a powerful determinant of health outcomes in offspring and, although this is a rat study, these data indicate that vitamin D levels during pregnancy are important for brain development, and may point to a contributing factor in the development of neurodevelopmental conditions, such as ASD. However, further work is needed to establish whether these associations also apply to humans.”

ABOUT THIS NEUROSCIENCE RESEARCH ARTICLE

Source: Society for Endocrinology
Publisher: Organized by NeuroscienceNews.com.
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.
Original Research: Open access research for “Vitamin D is crucial for maternal care and offspring social behaviour in rats” by Nathanael J Yates, Dijana Tesic, Kirk W Feindel, Jeremy T Smith, Michael W Clarke, Celeste Wale, Rachael C Crew, Michaela D Wharfe, Andrew J O Whitehouse and Caitlin S Wyrwoll in Journal of Endocrinology. Published online March 2018.
doi:10.1530/JOE-18-0008

CITE THIS NEUROSCIENCENEWS.COM ARTICLE
Society for Endocrinology “Autism Like Behaviors in Children Linked to Low Vitamin D Levels in Mothers.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 26 March 2018.
<http://neurosciencenews.com/vitamin-d-autism-8686/&gt;.

Vitamin D is crucial for maternal care and offspring social behaviour in rats

Early life vitamin D plays a prominent role in neurodevelopment and subsequent brain function, including schizophrenic-like outcomes and increasing evidence for an association with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Here, we investigate how early life vitamin D deficiency during rat pregnancy and lactation alters maternal care and influences neurodevelopment and affective, cognitive and social behaviours in male adult offspring. Sprague–Dawley rats were placed on either a vitamin D control (2195 IU/kg) or deficient diet (0 IU/kg) for five weeks before timed mating, and diet exposure was maintained until weaning of offspring on postnatal day (PND) 23. MRI scans were conducted to assess brain morphology, and plasma corticosterone levels and neural expression of genes associated with language, dopamine and glucocorticoid exposure were characterised at PND1, PND12 and 4 months of age. Compared to controls, vitamin D-deficient dams exhibited decreased licking and grooming of their pups but no differences in pup retrieval. Offspring neurodevelopmental markers were unaltered, but vitamin D-deficient pup ultrasonic vocalisations were atypical. As adults, males that had been exposed to vitamin D deficiency in early life exhibited decreased social behaviour, impaired learning and memory outcomes and increased grooming behaviour, but unaltered affective behaviours. Accompanying these behavioural changes was an increase in lateral ventricle volume, decreased cortical FOXP2 (a protein implicated in language and communication) and altered neural expression of genes involved in dopamine and glucocorticoid-related pathways. These data highlight that early life levels of vitamin D are an important consideration for maternal behavioural adaptations as well as offspring neuropsychiatry.

Autism – low levels of vitamin D at birth and an increased risk of a child being diagnosed on the autism spectrum

AUTISM

Reduced Attention to Audiovisual Synchrony in Infancy Predicts Autism Diagnosis

Reduced Attention to Audiovisual Synchrony in Infancy Predicts Autism Diagnosis

Summary: Infants who pay little attention to synchronous sights and sounds could have an elevated risk of being diagnosed with autism, researchers report.

Source: Uppsala University.

An ability to integrate information from different sensory modalities is important for infants’ development and for their perception of the environment. A new study suggests that infants who pay little attention to synchronous sights and sounds may be at elevated risk for developing autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This knowledge about early development in ASD may contribute to earlier detection and intervention in the future.

The findings were recently published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. The researchers let the infants observe a computer screen on which half of the screen showed objects that moved in synchrony with a sound and the other half showed objects that moved without any relation to the sound. The participants who fulfilled criteria for ASD at three years of age looked equally long at both sides, while children with typical development showed a strong preference for audiovisual synchrony, defined as changes in object velocity happening at the same time as changes in sound volume.

“We expected an effect in this direction, but were nevertheless surprised to see that the group differences were so large,” says Terje Falck-Ytter, Associate Professor at the Department of Psychology, Uppsala University, and Principal Investigator for the study. “We believe the findings are important because they point to a rather basic function that has not been studied much earlier in this context.”

The study is a part of the larger project Early Autism Sweden (EASE), which is a collaboration between Uppsala University and the Center of Neurodevelopmental Disorders at Karolinska Institutet (KIND). The project includes younger siblings of children with ASD, ADHD or language disorder. The infants are followed longitudinally from five months of age until they reach six years. The participants in the current experiment were 10 months old when their visual preferences were examined and were followed until three years, when the diagnostic evaluation was conducted. In total, 33 infants with an older sibling with ASD took part in the study, of whom thirteen met criteria for ASD at follow-up. The study also included a control group consisting of fourteen infants at low (average) risk for ASD.

 Image shows a mom and baby.

“Currently, ASD cannot be reliably diagnosed before 2-3 years of age, and despite a lot of research we still know too little about the causes. Even if twin studies suggest that genetic factors play an important role, we still do not know enough about which specific genes are involved and how they affect the developing brain to cause ASD. Our philosophy is that studying the early development of ASD will help clarify the picture,” Falck-Ytter explains.

The results demonstrated significant group differences, but it is too early to say whether the method in its current form can facilitate early detection in a clinical context.

“We used eye tracking to measure the infants’ gaze, and the experiment lasted only a few minutes. It is of course fascinating and promising that one can forecast with some degree of accuracy how a child will develop based on such a short measurement of gaze patterns. At the same time it is important to bear in mind that significant results at the group level do not imply that one can take this eye tracking ‘test’ and get accurate results on an individual level,” says Falck-Ytter.

ABOUT THIS NEUROSCIENCE RESEARCH ARTICLE

Source: Terje Falck-Ytter – Uppsala University
Publisher: Organized by NeuroscienceNews.com.
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to Terje Falck Ytter.
Original Research: Abstract in Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
doi:10.1111/jcpp.12863

CITE THIS NEUROSCIENCENEWS.COM ARTICLE
Uppsala University “Reduced Attention to Audiovisual Synchrony in Infancy Predicts Autism Diagnosis.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 23 January 2018.
<http://neurosciencenews.com/autism-audiovisual-synchrony-8345/&gt;.

Abstract

Reduced orienting to audiovisual synchrony in infancy predicts autism diagnosis at 3 years of age

Background
Effective multisensory processing develops in infancy and is thought to be important for the perception of unified and multimodal objects and events. Previous research suggests impaired multisensory processing in autism, but its role in the early development of the disorder is yet uncertain. Here, using a prospective longitudinal design, we tested whether reduced visual attention to audiovisual synchrony is an infant marker of later-emerging autism diagnosis.

Methods
We studied 10-month-old siblings of children with autism using an eye tracking task previously used in studies of preschoolers. The task assessed the effect of manipulations of audiovisual synchrony on viewing patterns while the infants were observing point light displays of biological motion. We analyzed the gaze data recorded in infancy according to diagnostic status at 3 years of age (DSM-5).

Results
Ten-month-old infants who later received an autism diagnosis did not orient to audiovisual synchrony expressed within biological motion. In contrast, both infants at low-risk and high-risk siblings without autism at follow-up had a strong preference for this type of information. No group differences were observed in terms of orienting to upright biological motion.

Conclusions
This study suggests that reduced orienting to audiovisual synchrony within biological motion is an early sign of autism. The findings support the view that poor multisensory processing could be an important antecedent marker of this neurodevelopmental condition.