"The default-mode network appears to be the brain's back burner for social decision making," said Peter T. Fox, M.D., director of the Research Imaging Institute at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. "Usually these back-burner ideas relate to interpersonal interactions and decisions that can't readily be quantified and shouldn't be rushed."
Dr. Fox likened this to putting a computer batch job into background processing to wait until the system is less busy.
Role of genetics
A recently released study from the Research Imaging Institute, the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research and other institutions offers evidence that genetics plays a role in this back-burner setup, which has been shown to be abnormal in a variety of psychiatric disorders.
The work was described in the Jan. 18-22 online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
The default-mode network is one of several neural networks that operate whether the mind is at rest or is occupied doing a task. A separate PNAS paper, published in 2009 by Dr. Fox and the same collaborators, presented a strong case that all human behaviors may be properly viewed as cooperative interactions among these networks, Dr. Fox said.
The newer research estimated the importance of genetic effects on the default-mode network by creating maps of eight anatomically distinct regions within the network. These maps were obtained by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies in 333 individuals from 29 randomly selected, extended-family pedigrees.
Network connectivity and gray-matter density were correlated to genetic factors. "We found that more than 40 percent of the between-subject variance in functional connectivity within the default-mode network was under genetic control," Dr. Fox said.
Based on this information, it is possible new diagnostic tools could be considered for various psychiatric or neurological illnesses, he said.
The study also included collaborators from the Yale University School of Medicine, the University of Oxford in Oxford, U.K., and Imperial College in London, U.K. The project is an outgrowth of longstanding collaborations between the UT Health Science Center and the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research using tools for gene discovery. It is also a result of substantial collaborations between the Research Imaging Institute and Oxford to develop novel applications of imaging methods.
"One long-term research goal is to test whether other intrinsically connected networks are also under genetic control, which we expect they will be," Dr. Fox said. "We also want to identify the genes that are controlling the default-mode network and other networks, and identify disorders associated with their abnormalities. A final goal is to develop treatment strategies."
Other UT Health Science Center co-authors are Rene Olvera, M.D., M.P.H., of the Department of Psychiatry in the School of Medicine, and Peter Kochunov, Ph.D., and Angela Laird, Ph.D., of the Research Imaging Institute.
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, one of the country's leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 2 percent of all U.S. institutions receiving federal funding. Research and other sponsored program activity totaled a record $259 million in fiscal year 2009. The university's schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced 27,000 graduates. The $753 million operating budget supports six campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. For more information on the many ways "We make lives better®," visit http://www.uthscsa.edu.
Will Sansom | EurekAlert!
Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT
Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
06.12.2016 | Materials Sciences
06.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
06.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering