Zebrafish give new insight to sound sensitivity in autism

These tiny fish are helping scientists understand how the human brain processes sound.

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  • Fragile X syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by changes in a gene that scientists call the "fragile X mental retardation 1 (FMR1)" gene. People who have FXS or autism often struggle with sensitivity to sound.
  • According to the research team, FXS is caused by the disruption of a gene. By disrupting that same gene in zebrafish larvae, they can examine the effects and begin to understand more about this disrupted gene in the human brain.
  • Using the zebrafish, Dr. Constantin and the team were able to gather insights into which parts of the brain are used to process sensory information.
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Scientists piece together the story of humans and dogs

A new study tracks the human-dog relationship through DNA.

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  • The earliest dog, not wolf, found so far comes from over 15,000 years ago.
  • A new study tracks the travel and development of dogs since the end of the Ice Age.
  • Insights are derived by comparing ancient canine DNA with ancient human DNA.
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Autistic people's nerve cells differ before birth, new study finds

"Such studies will lead to a better understanding of brain development in both autistic and typical individuals."

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  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges.
  • Although a diagnosis of autism can typically be made around the age of 2, the average age for diagnosis in the United States is after 4 years old.
  • A new study shows that the atypical development of autism in human brain cells starts at the very earliest stages of brain organization, which can happen as early as the third week of pregnancy.
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Humans are still evolving, and maybe faster now than ever

The sudden prevalence of an artery in the forearm is evidence that we're still very much a work in progress.

  • Australian scientists see signs of accelerating human evolution.
  • Exhibit A is the rapid rise in the prevalence of the median artery in adults.
  • Other emerging traits, like shorter baby jaws, support their finding.
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Reinventing agriculture for climate change

Modern crops have been optimized for a lot of things, but not for climate change.

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  • Growers are struggling to protect their crops from failure as conditions change due to global warming.
  • Modern crops lack the fortifying genetic diversity of their ancestors.
  • Scientists publish a new guide for strengthening crops through the reintroduction of wild-variety traits based on the latest science.
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