Mobile  |  About us  |  Photos  |  Videos  |  Subscriptions  |  RSS Feeds  |  Today's Paper  |  Classifieds  |  Contact Us
The Daily Star
FRIDAY, 18 APR 2014
09:37 PM Beirut time
Weather    
Beirut
22 °C
Blom Index
BLOM
1,214.01down
Science
Follow this story Print RSS Feed ePaper share this
Scientists find gene linking brain’s gray matter to intelligence
Reuters
A+ A-

LONDON: Researchers have found a gene linking intelligence to the thickness of so-called “gray matter” in the brain and say their discovery could help scientists understand how and why some people have learning difficulties.

An international team of scientists analyzed DNA samples and brain scans from more than 1,500 healthy 14-year-olds and gave them a series of tests to establish their verbal and non-verbal intelligence.

The researchers looked at the cerebral cortex – the outermost layer of the brain that is also known as “gray matter” and plays a key role in memory, attention, perceptual awareness, thought, language and consciousness.

They then analyzed more than 54,000 genetic variants possibly involved in brain development and found that, on average, teenagers with a particular gene variant had a thinner cortex in the left half of their brains – and performed less well on tests for intellectual ability.

“The genetic variation we identified is linked to synaptic plasticity – how neurons communicate,” said Sylvane Desrivieres, who led the study at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry.

“This may help us understand what happens at a neuronal level in certain forms of intellectual impairments, where the ability of the neurons to communicate effectively is somehow compromised.”

She stressed, however, that their finding did not amount to a discovery of a “gene for intelligence.”

“It’s important to point out that intelligence is influenced by many genetic and environmental factors. The gene we identified only explains a tiny proportion of the differences in intellectual ability,” she said.

The findings, published Tuesday in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, could help scientists gain more insight into the biological mechanisms underlying several psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia and autism, since people with these conditions often have impaired cognitive ability.

The genetic variation that Desrivieres’ team found affects a gene known as NPTN, which encodes a protein acting on neuronal synapses and affects brain cell communication.

To confirm the finding, the team studied the NPTN gene more closely in mouse and human brain cells in the lab and found it had a different activity in the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

This, they said, suggests the left hemisphere may be more sensitive to the effects of NPTN mutations and that some differences in intellectual ability are due to decreased NPTN function in particular regions of the left brain hemisphere.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 12, 2014, on page 13.
Home Science
 
     
 
brain / gray matter / United Kingdom
Advertisement
Comments  

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

comments powered by Disqus
Story Summary
An international team of scientists analyzed DNA samples and brain scans from more than 1,500 healthy 14-year-olds and gave them a series of tests to establish their verbal and non-verbal intelligence.

The genetic variation that Desrivieres' team found affects a gene known as NPTN, which encodes a protein acting on neuronal synapses and affects brain cell communication.

To confirm the finding, the team studied the NPTN gene more closely in mouse and human brain cells in the lab and found it had a different activity in the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

This, they said, suggests the left hemisphere may be more sensitive to the effects of NPTN mutations and that some differences in intellectual ability are due to decreased NPTN function in particular regions of the left brain hemisphere.
Entities
Advertisement


Baabda 2014
Advertisement
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Linked In Follow us on Google+ Subscribe to our Live Feed
Multimedia
Images  
Pictures of the day
A selection of images from around the world- Friday April 18, 2014
View all view all
Advertisement
Rami G. Khouri
Rami G. Khouri
Silencing Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s hate talk
Michael Young
Michael Young
Why confuse gibberish with knowledge?
David Ignatius
David Ignatius
Putin will keep rolling, until Obama says no
View all view all
Advertisement
cartoon
 
Click to View Articles
 
 
News
Business
Opinion
Sports
Culture
Technology
Entertainment
Privacy Policy | Anti-Spamming Policy | Disclaimer | Copyright Notice
© 2014 The Daily Star - All Rights Reserved - Designed and Developed By IDS