S18 Challenges in autism: beyond species and brain regions - common mechanisms for neuronal dysfunction?
Tobias M. Böckers (Ulm) and Kim Le (Aachen)
Live Discussion: Thursday, March 25, 2021, 18:00 - 19:00h
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is defined by core symptoms in impaired social interaction and communication as well as by stereotypic behaviors. Atypical sensory processing issues have also been reported in this complex disease and it is likely that social-cognitive deficits are linked to altered sensory perception. Our brains constantly receive sensory cues and create an internal representation of our environment. Filtering stimuli according to their relevance is key in order to allow for appropriate and fast reactions but can be disturbed in individuals with ASD. Although alterations in network connections are a whole mark in ASD, the neurobiological mechanisms underlying ASD deficits are yet not well understood. This symposium aims to shed light on information processing dysfunction in ASD across modalities and brain regions. Mechanisms will be elucidated at a molecular, cellular, circuit and behavioral level ranging from studies in stem cell culture, insects and rodents to human data. By using Drosophila genetics and connectomics, Peter Soba (Germany) will link unprecise neuronal wiring in ASD to dysfunctional sensory integration and social behavior. Susanne Schmid (Canada) will focus on altered mechanisms of sensory filtering in the rodent auditory system by using a variety of methods including behavioral assays and in vivo/in vitro electrophysiological recordings. In addition to that, Valentina Parma (Philadelphia) will give insights into the neurobiological basis of social cognition and sensory perception in ASD patients on the basis of the olfactory system. For a deeper understanding of social behaviors, Ofer Yizhar (Israel) will outline the role of prefrontal cortex circuits and how its social representations can be perturbed. Agata Szlaga (Poland) will present data on the underlying neuronal mechanisms of novelty preference and the involved brain areas in order to elucidate atypical reactions to novelty in ASD. Last but not least: given the importance of the development of suitable tools and systems to investigate neuropsychiatric disorders, Maria Rosaria Vitale (Germany) will introduce the generation of ASD-associated iPSC lines using CRISPR/Cas9.