The Cognomics Project

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Welcome to COGNOMICS

Radboud University Nijmegen launches a new initiative, bridging the gap between the genes that we bring along and the way our minds work. At this university, this new field of Cognomics will be a major area of research in the coming years

Through advanced neuroimaging analyses and extensive behavioral testing, in combination with state-of-the-art genetics and genomics research we hope to learn in the following years, how the genetic infrastructure of an individual builds a brain that is cognition-ready, how interindividual differences in memory, language and selected behavioral traits come about, and how genetic factors involved in complex brain pathology (as in psychiatric disorders) affect brain structure and function.

The knowledge acquired through the Cognomics research should help us understand the mechanisms behind the effects of genes in our brain. Through this we can tailor education and work environments better to the profile of individual talents and skills. In the domain of mental disorders it should contribute to characterize individual risk factors. The benefit for society will be enormous, since efficiency of education and labour will increase, and the increasing costs of psychiatric disease will reduce.



Brain Imaging Genetics summer school 2016 is approaching!

We are happy to announce that the program of our second Cognomics Summer School on Brain Imaging Genetics is almost ready! This year our 5-day course is aimed at researchers (MSc, PhD, postdocs) with a neuroimaging background, who would like to extend their understanding of genetics. Members of the ENIGMA consortium, including Prof. Barbara Franke and Dr. Alejandro Arias Vásquez (from the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour), and leading international researchers Dr. Sarah Medland (QIMR Berghofer, Australia), Dr. Jason Stein (IGC, Southern California), as well as additional genetics experts, like Dr. Beate St Pourcain (University of Bristol, UK and Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Netherlands) will share their state-of-the-art knowledge. Here is our program in a nutshell:

Last Updated on Monday, 28 March 2016 21:05

Summer school 2016. Brain Imaging Genetics: Genetics for Imagers

After successful first Summer school in 2014 the Cognomics Initiative organizes new Summer school 2016 as part of the Radboud Summer School program. This year the Cognomics Summer school is particularly aimed for neuroimaging researchers who wish to extend their knowledge and skills on state-of-the-art-developments in the field of genetics.

This intensive one-week course covers various aspects of genetics analyses of neuroimaging data. The course will start with basic information on the architecture of the human genome and the basis of heritability. We will then move on to the statistical analysis of single common genetic variant for the different imaging modalities (structural imaging based on (sub)cortical volumetry or diffusion tensor imaging and brain activity/functional connectivity based on (resting state) fMRI). This will be followed by analyses of whole gene and genome‐wide association studies and the meta-analysis of such data. Other important topics include the imputation of genetic data and linking genetics to behaviour via the brain – the essence of Cognomics research. We will conclude with approaches for the analysis of rare genetic variants. The lecture program will be supplemented with hands‐on computer exercises and demonstrations. Importantly, you will also learn how to genotype single nucleotide polymorphisms and score the genotypes in the wetlab. Evenings will be reserved for social activities.

Last Updated on Monday, 29 February 2016 15:30

Nijmegen researchers from the Cognomics Initiative identify new genes for brain structure

An international study, which included over 20 researchers from the Cognomics Initiative, has identified several new genes that influence the size of our brain.

Prof. Barbara Franke is one of the senior authors of the paper, which appeared in Nature on January 22, Dr. Alejandro Arias Vasquez was part of the core analysis team for this study, in which 193 different institutes from around the world took part.

The published study is unique, as brain scans of over 30.000 participants were analysed. ‘We have identified genetic factors that help us to better understand the differences in brain development that exist between people’ says Franke, who is a co-founder of the ENIGMA Consortium (, the initiator of the published study. ‘We founded ENIGMA in 2009, with the idea of creating an environment, in which researchers across the entire world could easily work together on the genetics of brain structure. This worked excellently, as we use a ‘crowd-sourcing’ approach, in which we develop protocols for analysis centrally, then send them out to all participating groups, which thus can perform their analysis themselves. So rather than collecting original data from the participating groups, we only ask them to send us their results, which we subsequently combine. In this way, all groups can stay closely involved in a project.’. The Cognomics Initiative, which is part of the Donders Institute, and is chaired by Prof. Franke and Prof. Simon Fisher from the Max Planck Institute, is one of the biggest contributor to the ENIGMA efforts.

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 March 2015 21:04

Cognomics researchers join the Human Brain Project (HBP)

Cognomics researchers from the Max Planck Institute (MPI), together with researchers in France and Spain, will receive competitive grant funding to join the European Commission's Flagship Human Brain Project.

The Human Brain Project is a large multi-partner effort to develop a multi-level understanding of the human brain, better diagnosis and treatment of brain diseases, and brain-inspired information and communications technologies. The transnational group of researchers, coordinated by MPI's Clyde Francks, proposed a set of inter-related studies called 'MULTI-LATERAL: Multi-level Integrative Analysis of Brain Lateralization for Language'.

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 December 2015 16:20

MiND European Training Network is hiring

MiND logo

EU Marie Sklodowska-Curie project ‘MiND’: put your mind to work on ADHD and autism.

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are common neurodevelopmental disorders affecting both children and adults. Despite their societal importance, progress in understanding disease biology has been slow and treatment options are limited.

The pan-European training network MiND (, a strategic collaboration of world-leading academic groups, research-intensive commercial enterprises and patient organizations, aims to substantially increase our knowledge about the etiology of ADHD and ASD through interdisciplinary research. We combine advanced (epi-)genetics, epidemiological, and neuroscientific approaches with bioinformatics and will develop novel cell and animal models of increasing complexity to understand the biology of cognition. Our mechanistic work is embedded in a framework exploring disease definitions for ADHD and ASD across the lifespan and will contribute substantially to improved disease management. Within MiND, we will identify new compounds for pharmacological treatment, establish novel animal models to test these, probe the microbiome for dietary interventions reducing symptoms and evaluate mindfulness training as a non-pharmacological treatment option.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 January 2015 12:42

Research institutes



In a few decades IQ domain scores can be predicted from: