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Study finds connections between genetics, brain activity and preference
Date:8/6/2008

version used in this study, keypress responses reflected participants' judgment and decisions about how much or how little they preferred the facial expressions.

The fMRI study showed that, during the viewing of angry faces, the activity of a structure called the insula, involved in the response to unpleasant situations, depended on which version of the CREB1 gene a participant inherited. In the keypress experiment, responses indicating a preference against the angry expression paralleled the CREB1-affected fMRI activity seen in the insula in the first experiment and also differed depending on the CREB1 variant that had been inherited.

"We were surprised to see that variation in the CREB1 gene would account for more than 20 percent of the difference in how healthy participants weighed different options and expressed specific preferences," says Perlis. "Our previous studies and the work of other groups suggested that variation in this gene could be important for judgment and decision-making by the brain, but we needed to connect this to a measurable decision-making effect in both behavior and brain activity."

Breiter adds, "This study connects quantitative measurements across three levels of observation brain activity, genomic variation and the expression of preference. We now are investigating the potential role of other genes and will go on to assess how this relationship across three levels of observation may be affected by conditions such as depression and addiction."


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Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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