Scientists are finally beginning to understand how common genetic differences among individuals underlie differences in the structures that make up their brains. In the first attempt to actually map these variations, neurologist Paul Thompson and colleagues at the University of California at Los Angeles have discovered that brain structures related to cognitive ability and language seem to be under tight genetic control. The groups findings, which could help explain how diseases like schizophrenia are passed on, will appear in a report in the December issue of Nature Neuroscience.
To construct their so-called genetic brain maps, the researchers scanned the brains of 20 sets of twins (ten fraternal and ten identical) with magnetic resonance imaging and combined the results to construct an average brain map for each kind of twin. In the brain map of identical twins pictured at the right, for example, brain areas exhibiting more variation appear in blue, whereas those showing less variation are red. These pairs of twins showed almost no differences in the amounts of gray matter in the frontal, sensory-motor and language-related parts of their cortexes. Fraternal twins, who share half of each others genes, showed more variation in these structures than did identical twins and less than unrelated individuals did, suggesting that "some areas of the brain are under tight genetic control—language in particular," Thompson explains. This genetic control may also extend partly to cognitive ability: study participants with more gray matter in the front of their brains scored higher on a common test designed to measure Spearmans g, which is similar to IQ. "But this is quite a mild correlation," Thompson says. "You cant predict an individuals IQ from a brain scan, and I think thats quite a relief."
The kind of brain mapping employed in this study could help scientists determine why dementias such as schizophrenia, which affects the frontal cortex, are often passed down between generations. By "building a mosaic, or jigsaw, which shows each individual part of the brain and to what extent genes influence it," Thompson says, "we can begin to point to why theres an inherited risk to brain disease."—
JR Minkel | Scientific American
A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
18.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
18.08.2017 | Life Sciences
18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences