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Author: Ahmad R Hariri (162)


Feb
2018

The use of polygenic risk scores has become a practical translational approach to investigating the complex genetic architecture of schizophrenia, but the link between polygenic risk scores and pathophysiological components of this disorder has been the subject of limited research. We investigated in healthy volunteers whether schizophrenia polygenic risk score predicts hippocampal activity during simple memory encoding, which has been proposed as a risk-associated intermediate phenotype of schizophrenia. We analysed the relationship between polygenic risk scores and hippocampal activity in a discovery sample of 191 unrelated healthy volunteers from the USA and in two independent replication samples of 76 and 137 healthy unrelated participants from Europe and the USA, respectively.

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Feb
2018

Neuroscience research has demonstrated that cognition, emotion, and their dynamic interactions emerge from complex and flexible patterns of activity across distributed neural circuits. A parallel branch of research in genetics has begun to identify common variation in the human DNA sequence (i.e.

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Jan
2018

Parallel clinical and preclinical research have begun to illuminate the biological basis of stress-related disorders, including major depression, but translational bridges informing discrete mechanistic targets for intervention are missing. To address this critical need, we used structural MRI in a mouse model and in a large human sample to examine stress effects on brain structure that may be conserved across species. Specifically, we focused on a previously unexplored approach, whole-brain structural covariance, as it reflects synchronized changes in neuroanatomy, potentially due to mutual trophic influences or shared plasticity across regions.

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Nov
2017

Low replication rates are a concern in most, if not all, scientific disciplines. In psychiatric genetics specifically, targeting intermediate brain phenotypes, which are more closely associated with putative genetic effects, was touted as a strategy leading to increased power and replicability. In the current study, we attempted to replicate previously published associations between single nucleotide polymorphisms and threat-related amygdala reactivity, which represents a robust brain phenotype not only implicated in the pathophysiology of multiple disorders, but also used as a biomarker of future risk.

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Dec
2017

The experience of childhood maltreatment is a significant risk factor for the development of depression. This risk is particularly heightened after exposure to additional, more contemporaneous stress. While behavioral evidence exists for this relation, little is known about biological correlates of these stress interactions.

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Jan
2018

We have previously reported that threat-related amygdala activity measured during a baseline fMRI scan predicts the experience of depression and anxiety associated with stressful life events years later. Here, we examine whether two broad measures of childhood environmental enrichment, namely parental educational achievement and subjective parental socioeconomic status, buffer against the effects of amygdala activity on future vulnerability to stress. Analyses of data available from 579 young adults revealed that maternal, but not paternal, educational achievement moderates the association between amygdala activity, recent life stress, and changes in mood and anxiety symptoms, even when controlling for participants' current subjective socioeconomic status.

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Nov
2017

Here, we present a large (n = 107,207) genome-wide association study (GWAS) of general cognitive ability ("g"), further enhanced by combining results with a large-scale GWAS of educational attainment. We identified 70 independent genomic loci associated with general cognitive ability. Results showed significant enrichment for genes causing Mendelian disorders with an intellectual disability phenotype.

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Oct
2017

Early life adversities including harsh parenting, maternal depression, neighborhood deprivation, and low family economic resources are more prevalent in low-income urban environments and are potent predictors of psychopathology, including, for boys, antisocial behavior (AB). However, little research has examined how these stressful experiences alter later neural function. Moreover, identifying genetic markers of greater susceptibility to adversity is critical to understanding biopsychosocial pathways from early adversity to later psychopathology.

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Nov
2017

Compared with neural biomarkers of risk for mental illness, little is known about biomarkers of resilience. We explore if greater executive control-related prefrontal activity may function as a resilience biomarker by "rescuing" risk associated with higher threat-related amygdala and lower reward-related ventral striatum activity. Functional MRI was used to assay baseline threat-related amygdala, reward-related ventral striatum, and executive control-related prefrontal activity in 120 young adult volunteers.

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Nov
2017

Building Bridges through Science.

Neuron 2017 Nov;96(4):730-735
Thomas Lissek, Michelle Adams, John Adelman, Ehud Ahissar, Mohammed Akaaboune, Huda Akil, Mustafa al'Absi, Fazal Arain, Juan Carlos Arango-Lasprilla, Deniz Atasoy, Jesus Avila, Ashraf Badawi, Hilmar Bading, Abdul Mannan Baig, Jimena Baleriola, Carlos Belmonte, Ilaria Bertocchi, Heinrich Betz, Colin Blakemore, Olaf Blanke, Philipp Boehm-Sturm, Tobias Bonhoeffer, Paolo Bonifazi, Nils Brose, Patrizia Campolongo, Tansu Celikel, Cathy C Chang, Ta-Yuan Chang, Ami Citri, Hollis T Cline, Jesus M Cortes, Kathleen Cullen, Kellie Dean, José M Delgado-Garcia, Mathieu Desroches, John F Disterhoft, John E Dowling, Andreas Draguhn, Sherif F El-Khamisy, Abdeljabbar El Manira, S Ather Enam, Juan M Encinas, Asier Erramuzpe, José A Esteban, Isabel Fariñas, Edmond Fischer, Izumi Fukunaga, Iñigo Gabilondo, Detlev Ganten, Albert Gidon, Juan Carlos Gomez-Esteban, Paul Greengard, Valery Grinevich, Agnés Gruart, Roger Guillemin, Ahmad R Hariri, Bassem Hassan, Michael Häusser, Yasunori Hayashi, Natasha K Hussain, Adnan Abdul Jabbar, Mohamed Jaber, Reinhardt Jahn, Essam Mohammed Janahi, Mohamed Kabbaj, Helmut Kettenmann, Merel Kindt, Shira Knafo, Georg Köhr, Shoji Komai, Harm Krugers, Bernd Kuhn, Nouria Lakhdar Ghazal, Matthew E Larkum, Mickey London, Beat Lutz, Carlos Matute, Luis Martinez-Millan, Mouna Maroun, James McGaugh, Ahmed A Moustafa, Anwar Nasim, Klaus-Armin Nave, Erwin Neher, Karoly Nikolich, Tiago Outeiro, Lucy M Palmer, Olga Penagarikano, Isabel Perez-Otano, Donald W Pfaff, Bruno Poucet, Atta-Ur Rahman, Pedro Ramos-Cabrer, Ali Rashidy-Pour, Richard J Roberts, Serafim Rodrigues, Joshua R Sanes, Andreas T Schaefer, Menahem Segal, Idan Segev, Saad Shafqat, Nikhat Ahmed Siddiqui, Hermona Soreq, Eduardo Soriano-García, Rainer Spanagel, Rolf Sprengel, Greg Stuart, Thomas C Südhof, Jan Tønnesen, Mario Treviño, Basim M Uthman, J Craig Venter, Alexei Verkhratsky, Craig Weiss, Torsten N Wiesel, Emre Yaksi, Ofer Yizhar, Larry J Young, Paul Young, Nasser H Zawia, José L Zugaza, Mazahir T Hasan
Science is ideally suited to connect people from different cultures and thereby foster mutual understanding. To promote international life science collaboration, we have launched "The Science Bridge" initiative. Our current project focuses on partnership between Western and Middle Eastern neuroscience communities.

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Nov
2017

Cognitive impairment has been identified as an important aspect of major depressive disorder (MDD). We tested two theories regarding the association between MDD and cognitive functioning using data from longitudinal cohort studies. One theory, the cognitive reserve hypothesis, suggests that higher cognitive ability in childhood decreases risk of later MDD.

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Oct
2017

Recent work has begun to shed light on the neural correlates and possible mechanisms of polygenic risk for schizophrenia. Here, we map a schizophrenia polygenic risk profile score (PRS) based on genome-wide association study significant loci onto variability in the activity and functional connectivity of a frontoparietal network supporting the manipulation versus maintenance of information during a numerical working memory (WM) task in healthy young adults (n = 99, mean age = 19.8).

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Oct
2017

Sleep disturbances represent one risk factor for depression. Reward-related brain function, particularly the activity of the ventral striatum (VS), has been identified as a potential buffer against stress-related depression. We were therefore interested in testing whether reward-related VS activity would moderate the effect of sleep disturbances on depression in a large cohort of young adults.

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Sep
2017

Corticolimbic pathways connecting the amygdala and ventral prefrontal cortex (vPFC) are linked with trait anxiety, but it remains unclear what potential genetic moderators contribute to this association. We sought to address this by examining the inter-individual variability in neuroplasticity as modeled by a functional polymorphism (rs6265) in the human gene for brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Amygdala-vPFC pathway fractional anisotropy (FA) from 669 diffusion magnetic resonance images was used to examine associations with trait anxiety as a function of rs6265 genotype.

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Mar
2017

Problematic alcohol use in adolescence and adulthood is a common and often debilitating correlate of childhood attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Converging evidence suggests that ADHD and problematic alcohol use share a common additive genetic basis, which may be mechanistically related to reward-related brain function. In the current study, we examined whether polygenic risk for childhood ADHD is linked to problematic alcohol use in young adulthood through alterations in reward-related activity of the ventral striatum, a neural hub supporting appetitive behaviors and reinforcement learning.

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Aug
2017

Time-dependent variability in mood and anxiety suggest that related neural phenotypes, such as threat-related amygdala reactivity, may also follow a diurnal pattern. Here, using data from 1,043 young adult volunteers, we found that threat-related amygdala reactivity was negatively coupled with time of day, an effect which was stronger in the left hemisphere (β = -0.1083, p-fdr = 0.

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Jun
2017

Early life stress may precipitate psychopathology, at least in part, by influencing amygdala function. Converging evidence across species suggests that links between childhood stress and amygdala function may be dependent upon hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis function. Using data from college-attending non-Hispanic European-Americans (n=308) who completed the Duke Neurogenetics Study, we examined whether early life stress (ELS) and HPA axis genetic variation interact to predict threat-related amygdala function as well as psychopathology symptoms.

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Aug
2017

Imaging genetics and genomics research has begun to provide insight into the molecular and genetic architecture of neural phenotypes and the neural mechanisms through which genetic risk for psychopathology may emerge. As it approaches its third decade, imaging genetics is confronted by many challenges, including the proliferation of studies using small sample sizes and diverse designs, limited replication, problems with harmonization of neural phenotypes for meta-analysis, unclear mechanisms, and evidence that effect sizes may be more modest than originally posited, with increasing evidence of polygenicity. These concerns have encouraged the field to grow in many new directions, including the development of consortia and large-scale data collection projects and the use of novel methods (e.

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Dec
1969

Recent neuroimaging studies have suggested divergent relationships between antisocial behavior (AB) and callous-unemotional (CU) traits and amygdala reactivity to fearful and angry facial expressions in adolescents. However, little work has examined if these findings extend to dimensional measures of behavior in ethnically diverse, non-clinical samples, or if participant sex, ethnicity, pubertal stage, and age moderate associations. We examined links between amygdala reactivity and dimensions of AB and CU traits in 220 Hispanic and non-Hispanic Caucasian adolescents (age 11-15; 49.

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Dec
1969

Calculating math problems from memory may seem unrelated to everyday processing of emotions, but they have more in common than one might think. Prior research highlights the importance of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) in executive control, intentional emotion regulation, and experience of dysfunctional mood and anxiety. While it has been hypothesized that emotion regulation may be related to 'cold' (ie.

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Feb
2017

Personality traits such as conscientiousness as self-reported by individuals can help predict a range of outcomes, from job performance to longevity. Asking others to rate the personality of their acquaintances often provides even better predictive power than using self-report. Here, we examine whether peer-reported personality can provide a better link between brain function, namely threat-related amygdala activity, and future health-related behavior, namely problem drinking, than self-reported personality.

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Sep
2016

Pattern classification of human brain activity provides unique insight into the neural underpinnings of diverse mental states. These multivariate tools have recently been used within the field of affective neuroscience to classify distributed patterns of brain activation evoked during emotion induction procedures. Here we assess whether neural models developed to discriminate among distinct emotion categories exhibit predictive validity in the absence of exteroceptive emotional stimulation.

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Jan
2017

Common functional polymorphisms in the gene encoding interleukin-18 (IL18), a cytokine belonging to the IL-1 superfamily that can induce synthesis of several other cytokines, have been associated with major depressive episodes following the experience of stressful life events. The neural mechanisms underlying these associations remain unexamined. Here we use an imaging genetics strategy to examine the effects of risk-related IL18 haplotypes comprising rs187238 and rs1946518 on threat-related amygdala reactivity and, through an indirect effect, stress-related symptoms of depression and anxiety in 448 non-Hispanic Caucasian university students.

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May
2016

Neuroimaging has suggested that amygdala reactivity to emotional facial expressions is associated with antisocial behavior (AB), particularly among those high on callous-unemotional (CU) traits. To investigate this association and potential moderators of this relationship, including task/stimuli effects, subregional anatomy of the amygdala, and participant race, we used fMRI in a sample of 167 racially diverse, 20 year-old men from low-income families. We found that AB, but not CU traits, was negatively related to amygdala reactivity to fearful faces.

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Oct
2016

Research on neural basis of inhibitory control has been extensively conducted in various parts of the world. It is often implicitly assumed that neural basis of inhibitory control is universally similar across cultures. Here, we investigated the extent to which culture modulated inhibitory-control brain activity at both cultural-group and cultural-value levels of analysis.

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Feb
2017

Identifying biological mechanisms through which the experience of adversity emerges as individual risk for mental illness is an important step toward developing strategies for personalized treatment and, ultimately, prevention. Preclinical studies have identified epigenetic modification of gene expression as one such mechanism. Recent clinical studies have suggested that epigenetic modification, particularly methylation of gene regulatory regions, also acts to shape human brain function associated with risk for mental illness.

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Aug
2017

Although goal pursuit is related to both functioning of the brain's reward circuits and psychological factors, the literatures surrounding these concepts have often been separate. Here, we use the psychological construct of regulatory focus to investigate individual differences in neural response to reward. Regulatory focus theory proposes two motivational orientations for personal goal pursuit: (1) promotion, associated with sensitivity to potential gain, and (2) prevention, associated with sensitivity to potential loss.

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Dec
1969

Increasing evidence suggests that the circadian and stress regulatory systems contribute to alcohol use disorder (AUD) risk, which may partially arise through effects on reward-related neural function. The C allele of the PER1 rs3027172 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) reduces PER1 expression in cells incubated with cortisol and has been associated with increased risk for adult AUD and problematic drinking among adolescents exposed to high levels of familial psychosocial adversity. Using data from undergraduate students who completed the ongoing Duke Neurogenetics Study (DNS) (n = 665), we tested whether exposure to early life stress (ELS; Childhood Trauma Questionnaire) moderates the association between rs3027172 genotype and later problematic alcohol use (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test) as well as ventral striatum (VS) reactivity to reward (card-guessing task while functional magnetic resonance imaging data were acquired).

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Dec
2017

Psychopathy refers to a range of complex behaviors and personality traits, including callousness and antisocial behavior, typically studied in criminal populations. Recent studies have used self-reports to examine psychopathic traits among noncriminal samples. The goal of the current study was to examine the underlying factor structure of the Self-Report of Psychopathy Scale-Short Form (SRP-SF) across complementary samples and examine the impact of gender on factor structure.

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Dec
1969

Variability in oxytocin (OXT) signaling is associated with individual differences in sex-specific social behavior across species. The effects of OXT signaling on social behavior are, in part, mediated through its modulation of amygdala function. Here, we use imaging genetics to examine sex-specific effects of three single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the human oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR; rs1042778, rs53576 and rs2254298) on threat-related amygdala reactivity and social behavior in 406 Caucasians.

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Sep
2016

Preclinical models reveal that stress-induced amygdala activity and impairment in fear extinction reflect reductions in anandamide driven by corticotropin-releasing factor receptor type 1 (CRF1) potentiation of the anandamide catabolic enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase.
Here, we provide clinical translation for the importance of these molecular interactions using an imaging genetics strategy to examine whether interactions between genetic polymorphisms associated with differential anandamide (FAAH rs324420) and CRF1 (CRHR1 rs110402) signaling modulate amygdala function and anxiety disorder diagnosis.
Analyses revealed that individuals with a genetic background predicting relatively high anandamide and CRF1 signaling exhibited blunted basolateral amygdala habituation, which further mediated increased risk for anxiety disorders among these same individuals.

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May
2016

Individual differences in coping styles are associated with psychological vulnerability to stress. Recent animal research suggests that coping styles reflect trade-offs between proactive and reactive threat responses during active avoidance paradigms, with proactive responses associated with better stress tolerance. Based on these preclinical findings, we developed a novel instructed active avoidance paradigm to characterize patterns of proactive and reactive responses using behavioral, motoric, and autonomic measures in humans.

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Feb
2017

Williams syndrome (WS), a genetic disorder resulting from hemizygous microdeletion of chromosome 7q11.23, has emerged as a model for identifying the genetic architecture of socioemotional behavior. Common polymorphisms in GTF2I, which is found within the WS microdeletion, have been associated with reduced social anxiety in the general population.

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May
2016

Late adolescence and emerging adulthood (specifically ages 15-24) represent a period of heightened sexual risk taking resulting in the greatest annual rates of sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies in the US population. Ongoing efforts to prevent such negative consequences are likely to benefit from a deepening of our understanding of biological mechanisms through which sexual risk taking emerges and biases decision making during this critical window. Here we present a neuroscience framework from which a mechanistic examination of sexual risk taking can be advanced.

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Nov
2015

Despite evidence for heritable variation in cannabis involvement and the discovery of cannabinoid receptors and their endogenous ligands, no consistent patterns have emerged from candidate endocannabinoid (eCB) genetic association studies of cannabis involvement. Given interactions between eCB and stress systems and associations between childhood stress and cannabis involvement, it may be important to consider childhood adversity in the context of eCB-related genetic variation. We employed a system-level gene-based analysis of data from the Comorbidity and Trauma Study (N = 1,558) to examine whether genetic variation in six eCB genes (anabolism: DAGLA, DAGLB, NAPEPLD; catabolism: MGLL, FAAH; binding: CNR1; SNPs N = 65) and childhood sexual abuse (CSA) predict cannabis dependence symptoms.

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Nov
2015

The experience of child maltreatment is a significant risk factor for the development of later internalizing disorders such as depression and anxiety. This risk is particularly heightened after exposure to additional, more contemporaneous stress. While behavioral evidence exists for such "stress sensitization," little is known about the mechanisms mediating such relationships, particularly within the brain.

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Mar
2016

Early life stress (ELS) is strongly associated with negative outcomes in adulthood, including reduced motivation and increased negative mood. The mechanisms mediating these relations, however, are poorly understood. We examined the relation between exposure to ELS and reward-related brain activity, which is known to predict motivation and mood, at age 26, in a sample followed since kindergarten with annual assessments.

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Dec
1969

The A allele of the FRAS1-related extracellular matrix protein 3 (FREM3) rs7676614 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) was linked to major depressive disorder (MDD) in an early genome-wide association study (GWAS), and to symptoms of psychomotor retardation in a follow-up investigation. In line with significant overlap between age- and depression-related molecular pathways, parallel work has shown that FREM3 expression in postmortem human brain decreases with age. Here, we probe the effect of rs7676614 on amygdala reactivity and perceptual processing speed, both of which are altered in depression and aging.

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Oct
2015

Finding translation in stress research.

Nat Neurosci 2015 Oct 25;18(10):1347-52. Epub 2015 Sep 25.
Ahmad R Hariri, Andrew Holmes
In our ongoing efforts to advance understanding of human diseases, translational research across rodents and humans on stress-related mental disorders stands out as a field that is producing discoveries that illuminate mechanisms of risk and pathophysiology at a brisk rate. Here we offer a Perspective on how a productive translational research dialog between preclinical models and clinical studies of these disorders is being powered by an ever-developing appreciation of the shared neural circuits and genetic architecture that moderate the response to stress across species. Working from these deep foundations, we discuss the approaches, both traditional and innovative, that have the potential to deliver a new generation of risk biomarkers and therapeutic strategies for stress-related disorders.

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Jan
2016

Stress exposure is associated with individual differences in corticolimbic structure and function that often mirror patterns observed in psychopathology. Gene x environment interaction research suggests that genetic variation moderates the impact of stress on risk for psychopathology. On the basis of these findings, imaging genetics, which attempts to link variability in DNA sequence and structure to neural phenotypes, has begun to incorporate measures of the environment.

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Nov
2015

Emotional neglect is associated with multiple negative outcomes, particularly increased risk for depression. Motivated by increasing evidence of reward-related ventral striatum (VS) dysfunction in depression, we investigated the role of developmental changes in VS activity on the emergence of depressive symptomatology as a function of emotional neglect.
We examined relationships between longitudinal neuroimaging of reward-related VS activity, assessments of mood, and measures of emotional neglect in 106 participants first scanned between ages 11 to 15 and then 2 years later.

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Jun
2015

Although the initiation of sexual behavior is common among adolescents and young adults, some individuals express this behavior in a manner that significantly increases their risk for negative outcomes including sexually transmitted infections. Based on accumulating evidence, we have hypothesized that increased sexual risk behavior reflects, in part, an imbalance between neural circuits mediating approach and avoidance in particular as manifest by relatively increased ventral striatum (VS) activity and relatively decreased amygdala activity. Here, we test our hypothesis using data from seventy 18- to 22-year-old university students participating in the Duke Neurogenetics Study.

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Jul
2015

Can we observe epigenetic effects on human brain function?

Trends Cogn Sci 2015 Jul 4;19(7):366-73. Epub 2015 Jun 4.
Yuliya S Nikolova, Ahmad R Hariri
Imaging genetics has identified many contributions of DNA sequence variation to individual differences in brain function, behavior, and risk for psychopathology. Recent studies have extended this work beyond the genome by mapping epigenetic differences, specifically gene methylation in peripherally assessed DNA, onto variability in behaviorally and clinically relevant brain function. These data have generated understandable enthusiasm for the potential of such research to illuminate biological mechanisms of risk.

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Jun
2015

Depression risk is exacerbated by genetic factors and stress exposure; however, the biological mechanisms through which these factors interact to confer depression risk are poorly understood. One putative biological mechanism implicates variability in the ability of cortisol, released in response to stress, to trigger a cascade of adaptive genomic and non-genomic processes through glucocorticoid receptor (GR) activation. Here, we demonstrate that common genetic variants in long-range enhancer elements modulate the immediate transcriptional response to GR activation in human blood cells.

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Jun
2015

Exposure to war zone stressors is common, yet only a minority of soldiers experience clinically meaningful disturbance in psychological function. Identification of biomarkers that predict vulnerability to war zone stressors is critical for developing more effective treatment and prevention strategies not only in soldiers but also in civilians who are exposed to trauma. We investigated the role of the serotonin transporter linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR) genotype in predicting the emergence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depressive and anxiety symptoms as a function of war zone stressors.

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Sep
2015

Here we provide novel convergent evidence across three independent cohorts of healthy adults (n = 531), demonstrating that a common polymorphism in the gene encoding the α2 subunit of neuronal voltage-gated type II sodium channels (SCN2A) predicts human general cognitive ability or "g." Using meta-analysis, we demonstrate that the minor T allele of a common polymorphism (rs10174400) in SCN2A is associated with significantly higher "g" independent of gender and age. We further demonstrate using resting-state fMRI data from our discovery cohort (n = 236) that this genetic advantage may be mediated by increased capacity for information processing between the dorsolateral PFC and dorsal ACC, which support higher cognitive functions.

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Jun
2015

Previous research demonstrates that prenatal testosterone exposure increases aggression, possibly through its effects on the structure and function of neural circuits supporting threat detection and emotion regulation. Here we examined associations between regional gray matter volume, trait aggression, and the ratio of the second and fourth digit of the hand (2D:4D ratio) as a putative index of prenatal testosterone exposure in 464 healthy young adult volunteers. Our analyses revealed a significant positive correlation between 2D:4D ratio and gray matter volume of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC), a brain region supporting emotion regulation, conflict monitoring, and behavioral inhibition.

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