Category Archives: Uncategorized

Overconnected Brains

Spectrum News discussed a new study from King’s College in London which found that mice lacking CHD8 have higher brain connectivity between the prefrontal cortex and other brain regions. CHD8 controls the structure of chromatin and the expression of several genes that have been linked to autism in humans with CHD8 mutations. The increased synchrony of brain activity in mice with inactive CHD8 is unusual compared to mice with mutations in other autism genes such as 16p11.2, CNTNAP2 and SHANK3b, which show decreased connectivity. Albert Basson, lead investigator of this study, proposes that certain autism subtypes are “characterized by increased long-range functional connectivity rather than reduced.” Indeed, people with the CHD8 mutation have unique features—a large head, motor delays, and wide-set eyes—that suggest a distinct sub-type of autism. However, it is difficult to conclude from mice models if overconnectivity is a consistent characteristic of this mutation. The mice model also did not show any social behavioral issues, which is typical for people with CHD8 mutations. Amongst other researchers, the Bernier lab’s Dr. Raphe Bernier, is currently investigating hyperconnectivity in children with CHD8 mutations, to further explore this relationship.

Check out the full article from Spectrum News here!

Brenna Boyd wins Exceptional Staff Award!

We are so excited to share that the Bernier Lab’s Brenna Boyd was awarded with the Psychiatry and Behavioral Science department’s Exceptional Staff award! As our lab’s supreme long distance runner, we nominated Brenna because of her “SPRINT” characteristics: Spirit, Professionalism, Research acumen, Independence, Neighborly/nice attitude, and Teamwork!

Congratulations to Brenna, we are so proud of you!!!  

Abridged Autism Assessment

How can clinicians shorten the diagnosis process for families sitting on autism evaluation waiting lists? Bernier Lab’s Dr. Jen Gerdts discusses how the Seattle Children’s Autism Center’s team evaluation model, which consists of multiple providers seeing a family in a single day, compared to psychologist- and physician-led models in efficiency and effectiveness for both providers and families. Read the Spectrum news story for more information!

Happy World Autism Month!

Did you know that April is Autism Awareness Month? There are Autism events all around the country.  Autism Speaks has great resources to find an event, walk or partnership near you, including the #Autismis movement to bring awareness about the diverse populations that make up this community.

So wear your blue and thank you for supporting Autism!