Children and teens with autism have a sluggish brain “pruning” process during development compared with healthy kids, according to neuroscientists at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). This slower pruning process results in a surplus of brain synapses — the points where neurons connect and communicate with one another.

The study, published in the journal Neuron, also found that the drug rapamycin (also known as sirolimus) was able to restore normal synaptic pruning and improve autistic-like behaviors in mice, even after symptoms had appeared.

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