Over 100 Genes Related to Memory Are Identified

Researchers have identified more than 100 genes important for memory in people. The study is the first to identify correlations between gene data and brain activity during memory processing, providing a new window into human memory. "This is very exciting because the identification of these gene-to-behavior relationships opens up new research avenues for testing the role of these genes in specific aspects of memory function and dysfunction," says Genevieve Konopka, Ph.D., of the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern, who is presented this new work in San Francisco on March 26, 2017 at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society (CNS) annual conference. "It means we are closer to understanding the molecular mechanisms supporting human memory and thus will be able to use this information someday to assist with all kinds of memory issues." The study is part of the nascent but growing field of "imaging genetics," which aims to relate genetic variation to variation in brain anatomy and function. "Genes shape the anatomy and functional organization of the brain, and these structural and functional characteristics of the brain give rise to the observable behaviors," says Evelina Fedorenko, Ph.D., of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, who is chairing the symposium on imaging genetics at the CNS conference. While past work has aimed to connect behavior to genes, researchers have lacked neural markers, which can provide a powerful bridge between the two. "Probing the genes-brain relationship is likely to yield a rich understanding of the human cognitive and neural architecture, including insights into human uniqueness in the animal kingdom," says Dr. Fedorenko. Dr. Konopka and Dr.
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