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Genetics of normal brain function and links to anxiety and depression symptoms

Drawing on a large normal population sample, Dr Justine Gatt and Prof Peter Schofield, in collaboration with Professor Lea Williams (Stanford University) have investigated how polymorphisms within genes may give rise to variations in normal brain functions. Using various cognitive, psychological and neuroimaging measures, they have investigated the role of several genes known to be involved in brain disorders. This included the genes for brain derived neurotrophic factor, serotonin receptors, monoamine oxidase A, apolipoprotein E, catechol-O-methyltransferase. They have shown, for example, how genetic polymorphisms in brain derived neurotrophic factor can impact brain function and memory and how this correlates with depressive features in a normal population. They have also shown how this genetic variant (BDNF) and others such as the HTR3A variant interacts with early life trauma to accentuate depression and anxiety symptomatology.