The human brain is a wonderfully complex supercomputer. Therefore, science still has a long way to go to fully understand its mysterious ways. Though, a genetic study, published in Science, has brought us one step closer to figuring out what is going on in regards to how the brain is shaped.
“The complexity of the human brain has equally eluded and fascinated scientists for centuries,” said first author Carolina Makowski, from the San Diego School of Medicine.
They continued: “A large part of how our brain is shaped boils down to what is entwined in our DNA. The last decade has seen a flourish in studies mapping different regions of the brain to unique genetic codes that naturally vary in the population. The way these brain regions are defined, however, can have an important impact on findings, something that we highlight in this work.”
The team combined previous papers, MRI scans, and genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of 39,898 adults and 9,136 children, to get an idea of which genes are involved in deciding brain shape. Using these techniques allowed for the discovery of hundreds of significant genes that influence architecture.
“Intriguingly, many of the genes that these loci map to are also associated with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism, epilepsy and intellectual disability, and dementia,” said Chi-Hua Chen who led the study.
In the future, these uncovered genes may be useful for researchers to understand the mechanisms of how genes impact the brain’s structure and its diseases.
Source study: Science – Discovery of genomic loci of the human cerebral cortex using genetically informed brain atlases