Genes Can Influence Brain Wave Patterns
A news release by the National Institute of Health reports that scientists have identified genes that influence brain activity, a trait that may serve as a useful surrogate marker for more genetically complex traits and diseases. Among the genes found, was one that was identified with
"This important advance sustains our hope for the potential of genome-wide association techniques to further the study of complex genetic disorders such as alcoholism," notes NIAAA Acting Director Kenneth R. Warren, Ph.D. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) allow researchers to rapidly scan the complete set of DNA of many individuals to find genetic variations associated with a particular disease or condition.
"One of the challenges in identifying the genes that underlie alcoholism is the large degree of genetic and environmental variability associated with the disease," explains first author Colin A. Hodgkinson, Ph.D., a geneticist in the NIAAA Laboratory of Neurogenetics. "Such variability has impeded even GWAS efforts to identify alcoholism genes. To overcome those difficulties, we used GWAS techniques to search for genetic variants related to EEG, or brain wave, patterns in a comparatively small sample of several hundred Native American individuals."
"While our main findings are for genes that influence EEG wave patterns, this study represents an important step toward the use of EEG as a surrogate marker for alcoholism," notes David Goldman, M.D., chief of the NIAAA Laboratory of Neurogenetic. "It also reveals new molecular pathways involved in addiction processes."