About this Research Topic
Over the last two decades functional neuroimaging has greatly contributed to the understanding of human brain processing.
Commonly, activation within distinct brain areas is inferred from group analyzes of functional hemodynamic responses elicited by specific task demands or sensory stimulation. The magnitude of neural activation is often correlated with individual differences in task-related performance or psychometric measures. Thereby, neural correlates of such complex traits can be investigated. Also, correlations of (behavioral) traits with brain activation within brain areas of interest may validate the functional relevance of the measured brain activation.
While this fruitful approach represents a “top-down” view, Imaging Genetics aims to relate individual genotype-dependent differences on the molecular level to brain activation. As investigated gene variants of interest commonly impact important neurobiological features assumed to affect neural processing on a network level, differences in brain activation between genotype subgroups can be interpreted against a neurobiological background.
Genes of interest affecting, for instance, dopaminergic or serotonergic neurotransmission code for enzymes involved in the synthesis of these neurotransmitters (DBH, TPH2), their receptors (DRD1-5, HTR1B), their release (SNAP25), re-uptake (DAT1, 5HTT) or degradation (COMT, MAOA). Furthermore, genetic risk variants for (psychiatric) illnesses identified by association studies can be investigated focusing on brain processing in patients and healthy subjects.
Together these two approaches may provide complementary views and possibilities to interpret task-related brain activation. Therefore, joint analyzes of brain activation, (behavioral) trait and genotype might offer a more holistic approach to investigate neural processing. Moreover, functional and structural connectivity as well as other neuroanatomical features have been shown to be differentially influenced by (behavioral) trait and genetic variation.
This Research Topic will bring together interdisciplinary research in human neuroscience focusing on the interacting nature of different levels of human brain organization underlying neural processing. Specifically, we attempt to bridge the gap between molecular and behavioral neuroscience by investigating the interaction of different organizational levels of the brain from psychological traits to molecular genetics.
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