Next Saturday, 2 April, is World Autism Awareness Day. This event is aimed at reminding the general public, professionals and politicians of the need to improve the quality of life of people suffering from this disorder.
Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder characterised by impaired social interactions and verbal and non-verbal communication, and by repetitive behaviours and limited areas of interest. It appears in early childhood and persists throughout life.
Inserm researchers are involved throughout the year in research on autism and other pervasive developmental disorders.
Recently, work done by Monica Zilbovicius’s team, Inserm Unit 1000, “Neuroimaging and Psychiatry,” has shown that stimulation of a certain area of the brain, the superior temporal sulcus, allows modification of gaze behaviour. This discovery opens new therapeutic opportunities for people with autism.
See the press release “A study demonstrates the possibility of changing the behaviour of the gaze by transcranial magnetic stimulation”.
Meanwhile, a team from Inserm Unit 862, “Neurocentre Magendie,” has demonstrated how impaired connections between different areas of the brain are involved in fragile X syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder. Their work provides an explanation for some of the symptoms of autistic spectrum disorders and fragile X syndrome.
Read the press release “Defective connections throughout the brain involved in certain autistic disorders”.
Researchers from Inserm Unit 930, “Imaging and Brain,” in collaboration with François-Rabelais University and Tours Regional University Hospital, have identified specific gene combinations in patients with autism that distinguish them from patients with intellectual disabilities, paving the way for new prospects for the diagnosis and understanding of the physiopathological mechanisms of autism.
Read the press release: “Autism: the value of an integrated approach to diagnosis”.