Drs. Allman and Wold are using new genomics methods to look for abnormalities in specific brain areas and cells that have been linked to behavioral traits associated with people with autism spectrum disorder, including a lack of self-awareness. The researchers are using a technique called RNA-Seq to study gene expression in autistic brains. RNA-Seq provides information on which genes are being expressed and how vigorous their expression is. In the researchers' pilot study, one group shows greater expression of genes involved in inflammation, whereas the other over-expresses genes involved in synapse function. Allman and Wold plan to extend their RNA-Seq studies to other autism-linked brain regions, such as the medial frontal pole, which is connected to the anterior and fronto-insular cortexes and may also play a role in self-awareness. They also plan to use laser microdissection to isolate specific cell types for RNA-Seq analysis, which may allow them to detect gene expression that would otherwise be masked in a tissue sample with many cell types.