Scientific Lectures //
Title: Gene–Trait Interactions: A Serious Challenge for Clinical and Personality Neuroscience
Colin DeYoung, Ph.D. - Department of Pyschology, University of Minnesota
Presented: Thursday, August 22, 2013 at 12:00pm
ABSTRACT: Despite the substantial heritability of most normal traits and disorders, it has been difficult to identify specific genetic variants that account for more than a tiny percentage of genetic variance in phenotypes. Common explanations for this “missing heritability” include massive polygenicity, rare variants, epigenetics, epistasis, and gene–environment interactions. Gene–trait (GxT) interaction is another concept useful for understanding the lack of obvious genetic main effects. Both genes and environments are distal contributors to human behavior, but the brain is the proximal driver of behavior. The effect of any single genetic variant is dependent on the configuration of the brain in which it is expressed. One method to begin studying how single genes interact with variations in the rest of the brain is to investigate GxT interactions. A psychological trait reflects a characteristic pattern of psychological function (and, therefore, of brain function), which has its origin in the cumulative effects of both the genome and the environment. A trait therefore describes variation in the broad organismic context in which any single gene operates. I describe examples of GxT interactions, focusing on fMRI, which pose a serious challenge for neuroscience aimed at understanding differences between people. In different genotypes, the association between specific traits and brain function can be radically different.
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