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Autism Spectrum Disorder

July 25, 2013 | By Geoffrey Mohan
Could cannibal Hannibal Lecter be capable of empathy? Psychopaths do have empathy, researchers say, but it doesn't come naturally. A brain-imaging study of 18 violent, psychopathic criminals in the Netherlands, the largest such study undertaken, suggests they can summon empathy when prompted. The report, published Wednesday in the journal Brain, showed that empathic circuits   that are unconsciously activated in the brains of normal people may be dormant or switched off in psychopaths -- not absent, as commonly thought.
October 24, 2004 | Cara Mia DiMassa and Zeke Minaya, Times Staff Writers
David Mason crossed his fingers and squeezed his eyes shut as he listened to the announcement that confirmed his dream: This Culver City High School senior, an autistic youth enrolled in the campus' special education program, was named homecoming king after a landslide vote. Fireworks exploded as last year's king plopped a fake gold crown on David's head. And the crowd in the bleachers cheered wildly.
July 28, 2009 | Lorenza Munoz
A self-possessed individual graced with the good looks of a matinee idol -- large, bluish-gray eyes, a firm jaw line and fistfuls of brown, wavy hair -- actor Hugh Dancy seemed, at first glance, completely wrong for the lead in Fox Searchlight's unconventional romantic drama "Adam."
June 17, 2013 | By Geoffrey Mohan
A human voice has no special ring to the autistic brain because areas related to reward and emotional context are not well wired to its center of voice recognition, a Stanford University study has found. The findings, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, lend support to the theory that social motivation lies at the heart of language and speech deficits that are endemic among children with autism spectrum disorder.  The social motivation theory of autism holds that deficits in communication and speech skills result from the brain's diminished ability to build a social context for human voices.
August 23, 2012 | By Rosie Mestel, Los Angeles Times
Scientists have pinpointed a likely source for many cases of autism and schizophrenia: Men who become fathers later in life pass on more brand-new genetic mutations to their offspring. The finding buttresses observations from population studies that rates of these disorders are more prevalent in children born to older fathers, sometimes by a factor of 2 or more, experts said. The research, published online Wednesday by the journal Nature, also should help correct an overemphasis on the riskiness of women giving birth at older ages, some researchers said.
April 25, 2013 | By Karen Kaplan
Researchers believe they have come up with a way to tell whether a newborn infant has a higher-than-normal risk of developing autism -- by looking for abnormalities in the placenta shortly after birth. The abnormalities in question are called trophoblast inclusions, or TIs. They are created when the placenta doesn't develop properly, and they are a marker for various genetic abnormalities. When a placental sample is examined on a slide under a microscope, TIs appear as dark blobs.
July 24, 2005 | Lynn Smith, Times Staff Writer
Early in his career, actor Gary Cole auditioned for a lead role in "Miami Vice." At the time it looked like it could have been his big break, but as he sees it now, the competition wasn't even close. Don Johnson was nowhere near the waiting room where he sat with the other Sonny Crockett types. "I think we were all decoys," he said.
December 7, 2009 | By Trine Tsouderos and Patricia Callahan >>>
James Coman's son has an unusual skill. The 7-year-old, his father says, can swallow six pills at once. Diagnosed with autism as a toddler, he had been placed on an intense regimen of supplements and medications aimed at treating the disorder. He was injected with vitamin B12 and received intravenous infusions of a drug used to leach mercury and other metals from the body. He took megadoses of vitamin C, a hormone and a drug that suppresses testosterone. This complex regimen -- documented in court records as part of a bitter custody battle over the Chicago boy between Coman, who opposes the therapies, and his wife -- may sound unusual, but it isn't.
February 14, 2005 | Shari Roan, Times Staff Writer
Dr. PAULINE FILIPEK sizes up her tiny patient in her toy-strewn clinic in Orange. As the 22-month-old boy enters the room, he doesn't look at Filipek or anyone else. He plows into a pile of toys on the floor, sometimes walking or crawling over them, but doesn't speak. He could easily pass as a good-natured child who needs little attention. But Filipek, a neurologist, sees something else, behaviors "that make the hair on the back of my neck stand up."
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