About this Research Topic
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are a group of genetically and phenotypically heterogeneous neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by impaired reciprocal social interactions and communication, and restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviors and interests (Lancet, 2006, 368: 210–215; Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol, 2012, 4. pii: a009886). Recent advances in genetics, neurobiology and systems biology are providing insights into the etiologies of ASD. Over the next few decades, the study of ASD will continue to expand our understanding of the development and function of the nervous system. The challenges in the field of ASD, will not only be in the identification of autism-associated genes, but will also be in defining the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which the genetic mutations confer disease risk and phenotypes. Investigation of cellular and synaptic defects in ASD will shed light on the molecular and cellular mechanisms that govern the function of the nervous system. It may also lead to the discovery of potential therapeutic targets for autism and other cognitive disorders.
This Research Topic of the Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience will focus on the most recent developments and ideas in the study of neural and synaptic defects in ASD, with a tentative emphasis on syndromic developmental disorders such as fragile X, Rett and Angelman syndromes and tuberous sclerosis, and nonsyndromic autism that is associated with mutations in NLGN3/4, SHANK2/3, GRIN2B, NRXN1 and other autism risk genes (Science, 2012, 337: 1301-3; Sci Transl Med, 2012, 4: 152ps17). The scope of this Research Topic includes, but is not limited to: structural and functional neural defects in patients and model organisms of ASD; molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying neural and synaptic deficits in ASD; neural and behavioral responses to potential therapeutic strategies for autism; genetic manipulation of neural plasticity in model systems and its translational relevance to autism; and basic studies aimed at understanding the genetic mechanisms underlying neural alterations in autism.
We welcome researchers to contribute original research articles, as well as review articles, that will showcase current efforts in the field of ASD. We hope that this Research Topic will inspire communication among researchers and open up new research perspectives in the study of autism and other cognitive disorders.
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.