The Cognomics Project

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The Brain Imaging Genetics (BIG) project

The Nijmegen Brain Imaging Genetics (BIG) project in Nijmegen, which forms the basis for the Cognomics program, already contains more than 2,500 healthy individuals. Investigating the role of known risk factors for psychiatric disease in more than 1,000 individuals, we found that risk alleles for Alzheimer’s disease affect medial temporal lobe structures in young healthy individuals, and that the psychosis risk gene CACNA1C alters brainstem volume. Our studies in BIG also reveal a complex interaction between the BDNF gene and aversive early life events on subgenual anterior cingulate cortex volume, a brain structure affected in major depression. The interaction between this polymorphism and early life adversity is also causing a negative memory bias, a cognitive hallmark of depression, known to be critical for disease onset and maintenance. Using the data from BIG, we recently participated in the first GWAS meta-analysis of brain structure through the ENIGMA consortium, of which we are co-founders and members of the steering committee. We have identified genetic determinants of total brain volume and of hippocampal volume (Stein, for ENIGMA, Nature Genetics). In addition to our work in BIG, Fernández’ studies with fMRI with sophisticated stress-induction procedures showed that variance in the ADRA2B gene modulated specific processing within the amygdala during a hypervigilant state and emotional memory formation, explaining potentially why some individuals have a higher risk to develop stress-related mental disorder. Franke showed that NOS1 increases ADHD risk through effects on impulsivity and activity of striatum during reward anticipation.


Last Updated on Friday, 17 August 2012 08:11  

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