For first time, neurotransmitter in the brain linked with autistic behavior
In a discovery that could offer valuable new insights into understanding, diagnosing and even treating autism, Harvard scientists for the first time have linked a specific neurotransmitter in the brain with autistic behavior.
Using a visual test that is known to prompt different reactions in autistic and normal brains, a research team led by Caroline Robertson, a Junior Fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows, was able to show that those differences were associated with a breakdown in the signaling pathway used by GABA, one of the brain's chief inhibitory neurotransmitters. The study is described in a December 17 paper in Current Biology.
"This is the first time, in humans, that a neurotransmitter in the brain has been linked to autistic behavior - full stop," Robertson said. "This theory - that the GABA signaling pathway plays a role in autism - has been shown in animal models, but until now we never had evidence for it actually causing autistic differences in humans."
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- 17th December 2015
- Medical Xpress