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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Genetics of emotion

Emotion is critical to most aspects of human behavior, and individual differences in systems recruited to process emotional stimuli, expressed as variation in emotionality, are characteristic of several neuropsychiatric disorders.

We examine the genetic origins of individual differences in emotion processing by focusing on functional variants at five genes: catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT), serotonin transporter (SLC6A4), neuropeptide Y (NPY), a glucocorticoid receptor-regulating co-chaperone of stress proteins (FKBP5) and pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide receptor (ADCYAP1R1).

These represent a range of effects of genes on emotion as well as the variety of mechanisms and factors, such as stress, that modify these effects.

The new genomic era of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and deep sequencing may yield a wealth of new loci modulating emotion. The effects of these genes can be validated by neuroimaging, neuroendocrine and other studies accessing intermediate phenotypes, deepening our understanding of mechanisms of emotion and variation in emotionality.

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