Friday, October 27, 2006

A gene that affects episodic memory?

A tantalizing study, published in Science, indicates that a SNP in a single gene KIBRA, could lead to a difference of as big as 25% in the outcome of a free recall test measuring the episodic memory. The KIBRA gene is expressed in the medial temporal lobe (the hippocampal region) and using fMRI the authors were able to demonstrate different levels of activation in this brain area for the carriers versus non-carriers of the T allele when they were engaged in a retrieval task.

Human memory is a polygenic trait. We performed a genome-wide screen to identify memory-related gene variants. A genomic locus encoding the brain protein KIBRA was significantly associated with memory performance in three independent, cognitively normal cohorts from Switzerland and the United States. Gene expression studies showed that KIBRA was expressed in memory-related brain structures. Functional magnetic resonance imaging detected KIBRA allele–dependent differences in hippocampal activations during memory retrieval. Evidence from these experiments suggests a role for KIBRA in human memory

This is an important work and could lead to much insight on the memory formation mechanisms involved.

Hat Tip: Small Gray Matters

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