Gut microbiota differences seen in people with autism may be due to dietary preferences

Research suggested that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may be at least partly caused by differences in the composition of the gut microbiota, based on the observation that certain types of microbes are more common in people with autism. But a new study suggests that the link may actually work the other way around: the diversity in species found in the guts of children with autism may be due to their restricted dietary preferences associated with autism, rather than the cause of their symptoms.

Call-and-response circuit tells neurons when to grow synapses

Brain cells called astrocytes play a key role in helping neurons develop and function properly, but there's still a lot scientists don't understand about how astrocytes perform these important jobs. Now, a team of scientists has found one way that neurons and astrocytes work together to form healthy connections called synapses. This insight into normal astrocyte function could help scientists better understand disorders linked to problems with neuronal development, including autism spectrum disorders.