Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) present unique challenges in the fields of genetics and neurobiology because of the clinical and molecular heterogeneity underlying these disorders. Genetic mutations found in ASD patients provide opportunities to dissect the molecular and circuit mechanisms underlying autistic behaviors using animal models. Ongoing studies of genetically modified models have offered critical insight into possible common mechanisms arising from different mutations, but links between molecular abnormalities and behavioral phenotypes remain elusive. The challenges encountered in modeling autism in mice demand a new analytic paradigm that integrates behavioral assessment with circuit-level analysis in genetically modified models with strong construct validity.
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