Autism and the Structure and Function of Synapses
This animation shows how genes associated with autism affect the structure and function of neuronal synapses.
Synapses are important structures for transmitting signals between neurons. As shown in the animation, genes that have been found to be associated with autism spectrum disorders often encode proteins related to the structure or maintenance of synapses. Mutations in these genes can interfere with the function of the synapses and even cause them to shrink over time, making it difficult for neurons to properly communicate with each other.
This animation is a clip from a 2013 Holiday Lecture Series, Medicine in the Genomic Era. Depending on students’ background, it may be helpful to pause the animation at various points to discuss different proteins or structures.