Brain allometry and asymmetries as intermediate phenotypes between genetic and environmental factors, and cognitive function and mental health
Principal Investigator: Professor Franck Ramus
Approved Research ID: 46007
Approval date: May 30th 2019
Humans are incredibly diverse at cognitive and behavioural levels. Understanding the factors that make each of us a unique human being is of major interest, both for fundamental science and for application to cognitive and mental disorders. Ultimate factors lie within the genome and the environment. While it is possible to find reliable associations between such factors and cognitive function, the relationships are long and indirect. Much understanding could be gained by considering intermediate factors between genes and cognition. The obvious candidates are within the brain, which collects both genetic and environmental influences, and is the biological basis for cognition, behaviour and mental health. Although all humans share a common brain structure and organisation, they also vary enormously in terms of the size and shape of their brain and of its subcomponents. We will therefore focus on describing and understanding this variation in brain anatomy and its relationship with other factors. We will examine the genetic and environmental factors that give our brain a unique anatomical configuration. Furthermore, we will inquire, to what extent do certain brain anatomical features explain variations in cognitive functions, and constitute a risk for certain cognitive or mental disorders? The proposed research will therefore contribute to illuminating the network of factors and the complex causal pathways that lead to cognitive deficits and mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia.