Autism spectrum disorders owe to sensory nerve misfires, not just brain deficits

A preclinical study has shown that autism may trace not only to impairments in the brain but also to nerves of the extremities and, possibly, throughout the body.

The Harvard team behind the research measured how mice responded when, for example, a light puff of air stimulated their backs. They found that mice with autism gene mutations in only their sensory neurons “exhibited heightened sensitivity to touch stimuli and were unable to discriminate between textures,” according to a news item from Harvard Medical School’s news office.

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