September 23, 2021


by: admin


Tags: behaviors, Noteworthy, Null, rejection, Repetitive, Spectrum, treatments, unsuccessful


Categories: autism

Null and Noteworthy: Null rejection, repetitive behaviors, unsuccessful remedies | Spectrum

Illustration by Laurène Boglio

In July, psychologist Nichola Raihani tweeted that her paper on social anxiety had been rejected with a zero result. In a single sentence review, one reviewer pointed out “the lack of significant results”, she wrote, and recommended submission to a more specialized journal. “I thought I would tweet it mostly because the reasons for the rejection have so little to do with open science, reproducibility, etc.,” Raihani told Spectrum in an email.

Their opinion was clearly received by many: By September 1, the tweet had received 1.5 million views, says Raihani.

Fortunately, some nulls – and replications – make it to the press. Two have featured in Spectrum coverage in the past two months: one team of researchers found no association between prenatal antipsychotics use and autism, and another reported failure to replicate its own findings on children’s ability to provide information derive.

Below are some other important null results and recent replications. If you like the newsletter, please take a minute to confirm your subscription if you have not already done so. We’d also love if you could fill out our short survey about your plans to attend academic conferences this fall. Thank you, as always, for your feedback and please keep sending your thoughts, ideas, interesting studies and cat photos to

Treatment flop:

Research in cells and mice previously pointed to a class of proteins called insulin-like growth factors as promising treatments for some genetic diseases associated with autism. For example, in 2020, researchers showed that insulin-like growth factor 2 reduced cognitive impairment, motor difficulties, and seizures in a mouse model of Angelman syndrome. But treatment failed in a new mouse study: mice given the proteins had brief changes in motor skills and neural activity, but the effects were short-lived, and learning, coordination, social The animals’ abilities, seizures and cognition were unchanged. It is unclear what the results mean for treating humans, the authors note; It is still possible that adjusting the dosage could have an effect.

The results were published in Molecular Autism last week.

Repeat analysis:

Many people with mutations in the PTEN gene have autism, but such mutations are also linked to restricted and repetitive behaviors in non-autistic people. People with PTEN mutations also often have an unusually large head or macrocephaly. To better understand how the gene affects the results, the researchers compared three groups of people: those with and without autism who have PTEN mutations, and those with autism and macrocephaly but no PTEN mutations. Initially, non-autistic people with PTEN mutations appeared to have lower levels of certain repetitive behaviors than those in the other two groups, but the differences disappeared after adjusting for age and intelligence quotients.

The results appeared in the American Journal of Medical Genetics in August.

Oxytocin (again):

The previous issue of this newsletter reported that the case of oxytocin during pregnancy was closed, but researchers are still investigating the effects of the hormone in autistic people as a possible treatment. In a new study, 27 autistic boys and men ages 15 to 33 took oxytocin or a placebo before looking at image sets in a brain scanner. The pictures showed neutral versus embarrassing, emotional or physically painful situations. Participants rated the intensity of pain or emotion for each image set. The researchers also checked to see if the participants had a variant of the gene previously linked to social cognition that codes for the oxytocin receptor. Regardless of the receptor genotype, however, oxytocin treatment had no effect on participants’ brain activity other than an increase in the amygdala when they viewed images related to physical pain. The team stopped the process prematurely due to a lack of recruitment.

The results were published in Scientific Reports in July.

Gender equality:

Researchers are increasingly studying how autism differs by gender. In order to better understand the executive function – which is often a challenge for autistic people – a team compared autistic men and boys as well as women and girls with each other and with their non-autistic colleagues. They found that the sex differences in autistic people were no different from those in non-autistic people: both non-autistic and autistic women performed better than on measurements of verbal learning and memory, cognitive flexibility, and other executive functions non-autistic and autistic men did. The study contradicts the notion that autism is partially associated with atypical gender development, the researchers write.

The results were published in Autism in June.

among others:

  • In the ongoing vitamin D study, the researchers found that a high daily dose has no neurological development benefits over a standard dose for infants and young children and can even be harmful.
  • In a study of nearly 7 million people in the UK, researchers confirmed a widespread increase in diagnoses of autism, largely attributing the 787 percent increase from 1998 to 2018 to changes in diagnoses of the condition.
  • Smoking cigarettes during early or middle pregnancy does not increase the likelihood of having a child with autism.
  • A review of 33 studies of nutritional supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy failed to draw any conclusions about the effects of the nutritional supplements on the likelihood of autism, despite a lack of racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity in such studies.
  • Autistic and non-autistic children pay equal attention to dolls, but not to people, suggesting that dolls may be useful for some therapies.
  • Autistic children with little need for support can understand indirect requests – such as “How I can see that you have not yet signed up for the Null and Notable Newsletter” – just like non-autistic children.
  • According to a review of eight studies, the evidence to date does not support the use of augmented reality to help people with autism or intellectual disabilities acquire academic skills.
  • A tiny replica of an even smaller study advocates techniques that use food selectivity to help autistic children accept more non-preferred foods with meals.
  • Finally, a comment in Nature advocates shifting the burden of replication from individual laboratories to coordinated communities.

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