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
Single-stranded DNA and RNA origami go live
15.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard
New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists
15.12.2017 | Louisiana State University
DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.
Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences
15.12.2017 | Life Sciences