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Gene Linked With Mental Illness Shapes Brain Region

Posted Jan 07 2009 6:52pm

Researchers have discovered a gene associated with mental illness that enlarges the region of the brain called the Pulvinar.

"The 5HTTLPR genetic variant of the serotonin transporter (SERT), which consists of a long (SERT-l) and short (SERT-s) allele, has emerged as a major factor influencing emotional behavior and brain anatomy."[1]

The Pulvinar (as shown in the picture) appears to be larger and carries more nerve cells in individuals who experience mental illness than those who do not.

"This might indicate that the brain regions that receive input from the Pulvinar are more strongly influenced in such individuals, and the Pulvinar communicates with brain regions involved in negative emotional issues," said Dr. Dwight German, one of the authors of the research study.

The more I learn about the mind and biology, the more things makes sense. Don't you think? Hopefully, such research will help to take the stigma out of mental illness.

The study is available at Biological Psychiatry - a journal of psychiatric neuroscience and therapeutics.

Genetic research rocks.

[1] Young, K.A., Holcomb, L., Bonkale, W.L., Hicks, P.B., Yazdani, U. & German, D.C. (2006). 5HTTLPR polymorphism and enlargement of the pulvinar: Unlocking the backdoor to the limbic system. Biological Psychiatry. In press.
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