Next week, I’m leaving to spend a few weeks in the U.S. My first stop is the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside—we collaborate with Sara Mednick‘s team of sleep researchers there. I’m going to give a brown bag lunch talk on Wednesday, April 30th at 12:10pm in the Goldman Library.
The genetic basis of perceptual abnormalities in schizophrenia and autism
Deficits in sensitivity to visual stimuli of low spatial frequency and high temporal frequency (for example, ‘frequency-doubled’ gratings) have been demonstrated both in schizophrenia and in autism spectrum disorder. Basic perceptual functions are ideal candidates for molecular genetic study, because the underlying neural mechanisms are relatively well characterised; but they have often been overlooked in favour of cognitive and neurophysiological ‘endophenotypes’, for which neural substrates are unknown. Recently, we measured contrast sensitivity for detection of frequency-doubled gratings in a cohort of 1060 healthy young adults, and tested for associations with genetic markers distributed throughout the whole genome. I’ll discuss our findings, which suggest that the perceptual and psychological abnormalities observed in two different psychological disorders may be linked by common genetic elements. In the process, I’ll discuss the rationale and methodology of a genome-wide association study—a technique that is increasingly relevant to researchers in all areas of psychology.
The findings I’ll be discussing are published in this paper:
Goodbourn, P.T., Bosten, J.M., Bargary, G., Hogg, R.E., Lawrance-Owen, A.J., & Mollon, J.D. (2014). Variants in the 1q21 risk region are associated with a visual endophenotype of autism and schizophrenia. Genes, Brain & Behavior, 13(2), 144–51.
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