When research isn’t science

Some time ago, a link to this quasi-review article crossed my desk. Briefly, it explains why, in the author’s opinion, the subject articles on genetic research in autism are somehow untrustworthy or flawed. In some ways, it’s well-written. I like the bibliography. It’s all Nature, Science, NEJM, and Nature Genetics. But to me, the real […]

The promise of genetics research

< p class=”note”>I have been struggling with the question of whether to keep writing on science issues, particularly since it’s not my area of expertise (even though I’m very fond of thinking about these issues). I’ve decided to compromise and try to write about science and research policies and projects, which are of interest to […]

Autism Speaks carefully about vaccines

I finally had time to read the recent statement/interview with Dr. Geri Dawson, the Chief Science Officer of Autism Speaks. As you know, we’ve discussed this complicated and angst-inducing issue in the past, primarily with respect to the complexities of epidemiology in vaccine research and the nuanced textures of meaning of studies large enough to […]

IEP goals about discipline or restraints?

Here’s another article describing seemingly vague rules about restraints and seclusion, an issue that seems to be growing in importance in recent months. Here is a single excerpt from the COPAA letter: A 9 year old boy with autism in Tennessee was restrained face-down in his school’s isolation room for four hours. The complaint alleges […]

Scientist drawing line on vaccine research

Today, Dr. Eric London, from Autism Speaks/Autism Science Foundation and a co-founder of NAAR (which merged with Autism Speaks), announced that he is resigning from the Scientific Affairs Committee and dissociating himself from Autism Speaks. His statement generally refers to the continuation of vaccine-related research supported by Autism Speaks. This issue is one that is […]

Science Corner — Brain structures may affect sociability

This brief description of an MRI study from Cambridge relates that two areas of the brain may affect sociability by affecting the value of social rewards to a person. They found that the greater the concentration of tissue in the orbitofrontal cortex (the outer strip of the brain just above the eyes), and in the […]

Why do poor treatments sometimes get results?

This Slate article talks about the Hawthorne effect, which basically says that positive interactions with people creates positive outcomes, at least for a while. It’s sort of like a placebo effect for behavior. Using facilitated communication as an example, the author details one reason why researchers in the softer sciences (as opposed to hard sciences […]

Animation of Long-Term Potentiation and DNA

Readers of Exaptation will note that a recent post dealt with Long-Term Potentiation, or LTP. LTP is related to the manner in which signals travel in the brain (very simplified explanation!). This animation of LTP explains the process in much greater detail. Other visualizations relevant to understanding some of the scientific research regarding autism include: […]

Can we use brain signaling to improve ABA?

This article from Wired describes a very interesting development in neuroscience that could be harnessed to improve teaching of autistic children (and, of course, NT children as well). The essence of the discovery is that there are signals, prior to the application of a stimulus (in this case, something to be memorized), that seem to […]