Connecting signaling pathways underlying communication to ASD vulnerability

Stephanie Lepp, Ashley Anderson, Genevieve Konopka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Language is a human-specific trait that likely facilitated the rapid increase in higher cognitive function in our species. A consequence of the selective pressures that have permitted language and cognition to flourish in humans is the unique vulnerability of humans to developing cognitive disorders such as autism. Therefore, progress in understanding the genetic and molecular mechanisms of language evolution should provide insight into such disorders. Here, we discuss the few genes that have been identified in both autism-related pathways and language. We also detail the use of animal models to uncover the function of these genes at a mechanistic and circuit level. Finally, we present the use of comparative genomics to identify novel genes and gene networks involved in autism. Together, all of these approaches will allow for a broader and deeper view of the molecular brain mechanisms involved in the evolution of language and the gene disruptions associated with autism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-133
Number of pages37
JournalInternational Review of Neurobiology
StatePublished - 2013


  • Animal models
  • Communication
  • Evolution
  • Genomics
  • Language
  • Vocalizations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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