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Genomic analyses of visual cognition: perceptual rivalry and top-down control

Sep. 25,2018

Prof. Yi Rao published a paper on Journal of Neuroscience with his collaborator.

Visual cognition in humans has traditionally been studied with cognitive behavioral methods and brain imaging, but much less with genetic methods. Perceptual rivalry, an important phenomenon in visual cognition, is the spontaneous perceptual alternation that occurs between two distinct interpretations of a physically constant visual stimulus (e.g. binocular rivalry stimuli) or a perceptually ambiguous stimulus (e.g. the Necker cube). The switching rate varies dramatically across individuals and can be voluntarily modulated by observers. Here, we adopted a genomic approach to systematically investigate the genetics underlying binocular rivalry, Necker cube rivalry and voluntary modulation of Necker cube rivalry in young Chinese adults (Homo sapiens, 81 % female, 20 ± 1 years old) at multiple levels, including common single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) based heritability estimation, SNP-based genome wide association study (GWAS), gene-based analysis, and pathway analysis. We performed a pilot GWAS in 2,441 individuals and replicated it in an independent cohort of 943 individuals. Common SNP-based heritability was estimated to be 25% for spontaneous perceptual rivalry. SNPs rs184765639 and rs75595941 were associated with voluntary modulation, and imaging data suggested genotypic difference of rs184765639 in the surface area of the left caudal-middle frontal cortex. Additionally, converging evidence from multi-level analyses associated genes such as PRMT1 with perceptual switching rate, and MIR1178 with voluntary modulation strength. In summary, this study discovered specific genetic contributions to perceptual rivalry and its voluntary modulation in human beings. These findings may promote our understanding of psychiatric disorders, as perceptual rivalry is a potential psychiatric biomarker.

Original link: http://www.jneurosci.org/content/early/2018/09/21/JNEUROSCI.1970-17.2018