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Gene project reveals brain insights

Thursday September 20th, 2012

Stunning new insights into the human brain are emerging from a project which has mapped the role of thousands of genes, British researchers revealed last night.

The study, reported in Nature, reveals that as many as 84 per cent of human genes have a role in the brain.

Scientists say the findings suggest less variation in the biology of the human brain than had been expected - suggesting quite small differences are responsible for differences in personality and mental ability.

Researchers at Edinburgh University, Scotland, have worked on the project with the Allen Institute for Brain Science in America.

The research involved analysing some 100 million expressions of gene activity in three brains - in 500 different areas.

Researcher Professor Seth Grant, from Edinburgh, said: "The human brain is the most complex structure known to mankind and one of the great challenges in modern biology is to understand how it is built and organised. This genetic mapping provides us with the Rosetta Stone for understanding the link between genetic disorders and brain disease.

"We live in an era where human genome sequencing is discovering broken genes but until now we have not known where in the brain these genes act."

And Dr Ed Lein, of the Allen Institute, said: "These results only scratch the surface of what can be learned from this immense data set. We look forward to seeing what others will discover."

Nature September 19 2012

Tags: Brain & Neurology | Genetics | North America | UK News

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