Navigation Links
Twins study shows genetic basis for face and place recognition
Date:12/19/2007

ANN ARBOR, Mich.---New evidence suggests our brains are hardwired before birth to recognize faces and places. But in contrast, the neural circuitry we use to recognize words develops mainly as a result of experience.

That's according to new findings from the University of Michigan.

"There's been a big debate about whether face recognition is a function we're wired to perform for survival. This is the first study to look at that question using brain imaging in twins," said psychology professor Thad Polk, the first author of a paper on the results that are published in the Dec. 19 edition of The Journal of Neuroscience.

Polk and his colleagues used functional MRI to examine brain activity in sets of identical and fraternal twins who viewed pictures of faces, houses, chairs, made-up words and abstract control images. Faces, houses, and words are known to elicit distinct patterns of activity in the brain's ventral visual cortex, on the bottom of the brain, behind and around the ears.

The scientists used photos of houses to stimulate what's called the "parahippocampal place area." And they included pronounceable made-up words rather than actual words to make sure that the meaning didn't affect brain activity.

For each category the participants viewed, they had to press a button to say whether a picture was the same picture as the one before it.

Functional MRI of the brain indirectly measures the activity of firing neurons. The tests gave scientists color-coded maps of brain activity. By comparing each participant's MRI results with his or her twin's, Polk could gauge how similarly their brains worked when tasked with recognizing images in the different categories.

The brain circuits used to recognize chairs or made-up words were no more similar in identical twins than in fraternal twins. That suggests that the neural circuitry underlying these behaviors is not innate. Instead, that circuitry is primarily learned through experience, Polk said.

But in the face and house categories, the scientists saw a different story. The neural pathways used to process these images were more similar in identical than fraternal twins. This suggests that genes play a significant role in this type of brain function. Identical twins are genetic copies of one another. Fraternal twins are as genetically different as regular siblings.

These results cannot be chalked up to greater structural similarity in identical twins' brains, the study says. If they could be, then the brain activity patterns for made-up words and chairs should also have been more similar in identical twins. They weren't.

"Face and place recognition are older than reading on an evolutionary scale," Polk said. "They are shared with other species and they provide a clearer adaptive advantage. It's therefore plausible that evolution would shape the cortical response to faces and places, but not symbols such as words and letters."

He said that this research could help scientists understand what's innate and what is learned. "If we can figure out the extent to which the brain can change as a result of experience and what makes it change, we could potentially develop therapies for people with brain damage," Polk said. When parts of the brain are damaged, other areas often compensate.


'/>"/>

Contact: Nicole Casal Moore
ncmoore@umich.edu
734-647-1838
University of Michigan
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Overweight Twins Battle the Bulge and Gain A New Lease on Life in National Body Challenge: Twins Edition on Discovery Health
2. Penn study finds pro-death proteins required to regulate healthy immune function
3. New study shows promise in reducing surgical risks associated with surgical bleeding
4. Study, meta-analysis examine factors associated with death from heatstroke
5. Study suggests loss of 2 types of neurons -- not just 1 -- triggers Parkinsons symptoms
6. Study says COPD testing is not measuring up
7. Preclinical study suggests organ-transplant drug may aid in lupus fight
8. Ability to cope with stress can increase good cholesterol in older white men, study finds
9. High alcohol consumption increases stroke risk, Tulane study says
10. Mailman School of Public Health study examines link between racial discrimination and substance use
11. Pitt study finds inequality in tobacco advertising
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/27/2016)... Brooklyn, NY (PRWEB) , ... June 27, 2016 ... ... is using cutting edge technology to revolutionize the emergency ambulance transport experience for ... Many are aware of how Uber has disrupted the taxi industry through the ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... June 26, 2016 , ... PawPaws brand pet ... product that was developed to enhance the health of felines. The formula is all-natural ... two main herbs in the PawPaws Cat Kidney Support Supplement Soft Chews ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... , ... The temporary closing of Bruton Memorial Library on June 21 due to a possible ... often overlooked aspect of head lice: the parasite’s ability to live away from a human ... but a necessary one in the event that lice have simply gotten out of control. ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... , ... June 25, 2016 , ... On Friday, June ... a Bronze Wellness at Work award to iHire in recognition of their exemplary accomplishments ... of the 7th annual Maryland Workplace Health & Wellness Symposium at the BWI Marriott ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , ... June 24, 2016 , ... Marcy was in a crisis. Her son James, ... out at his family verbally and physically. , “When something upset him, he couldn’t control ... use it. He would throw rocks at my other children and say he was going ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... Tenn. , June 24, 2016  Arkis ... providing less invasive and more durable cerebrospinal fluid ... in funding.  The Series-A funding is led by ... Lighthouse Fund, and other private investors.  Arkis, new ... neurosurgical instrumentation and the market release of its ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 ... "Pharmaceutical Excipients Market by Type (Organic Chemical (Sugar, ... Formulation (Oral, Topical, Coating, Parenteral) - Global Forecast to ... The global pharmaceutical excipients market ... at a CAGR of 6.1% in the forecast period ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 ... CAPR ), a biotechnology company focused on the ... announced that patient enrollment in its ongoing randomized ... has exceeded 50% of its 24-patient target. Capricor ... the third quarter of 2016, and to report ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: