The disruption of experience-dependent gene expression may be a common link between the myriad genetic mutations that have been associated with autism, suggests a recent study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.
In the study, scientists probed the genetic basis of autism in some Middle Eastern populations in which marriage between cousins is common. The researchers observed that many of the mutations they identified were in genes whose expression is mediated by neural activity triggered by an individual's experiences (Morrow EM et al. Science. 2008;321:218-223).
Kuehn BM. Autism Genes. JAMA. 2008;300(8):891. doi:10.1001/jama.300.8.891-d