Study of cerebellum’s role in autism homes in on ‘social’ region

New evidence from both people and mice points to a part of the cerebellum that processes social information as being critical in autism.

The findings indicate that this region, called the right crus I (RCrusI), is disrupted in children with autism. In mice, suppressing activity in the region can cause social problems and repetitive behaviors reminiscent of the condition; stimulating the region reverses the social problems.

The researchers were also able to artificially stimulate the area in typical adults — hinting at a therapy for autism.

Various studies have pointed to a role for the cerebellum in autism. For example, people with autism have fewer Purkinje neurons, which inhibit brain activity, in parts of the cerebellum2. The new work narrows the area of interest to the RCrusI.

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18th December 2017