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Nithianantharajah J, Komiyama NH, McKechanie A, Johnstone M, Blackwood DH, Clair DS, Emes RD, van de Lagemaat LN, Saksida LM, Bussey TJ, Grant SG. Synaptic scaffold evolution generated components of vertebrate cognitive complexity. Nat Neurosci . 2012 Dec 2 ; PubMed Abstract

Comments on Paper and Primary News
Primary News: Dissecting Cognition at the Synapse

Comment by:  Jennifer Barnett (Disclosure)
Submitted 13 December 2012 Posted 13 December 2012

Cognitive function is highly heritable (Devlin et al., 1997), yet we have relatively little understanding of which genes regulate either general intelligence or specific cognitive functions. A long list of mutations can cause the large cognitive impairments that we class as learning disability—including many of the same CNVs associated with cognitive disorders such as autism and schizophrenia (Guilmatre et al., 2009). Prior to the GWAS era, it was generally assumed that normal variation—outside of the range of learning disability—would be regulated by common variants of small effect. Yet GWAS, a technology well suited to detecting common variants of small effect, has not massively increased our understanding of the genetic basis of cognition.

One explanation for this relative lack of success is that, compared with quantitative phenotypes such as height or BMI, the measurement of cognition can be time consuming and therefore costly, so really large-scale studies...  Read more

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