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:6/26/2016)... ... June 26, 2016 , ... PawPaws brand pet supplements owned by ... to enhance the health of felines. The formula is all-natural and is made from ... the PawPaws Cat Kidney Support Supplement Soft Chews are Astragalus Root Extract ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... , ... June 25, 2016 , ... Austin residents seeking ... American College of Mohs Surgery and to Dr. Russell Peckham for medical and surgical ... effective treatment for skin cancer. The selective fellowship in Mohs Micrographic Surgery completed by ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... As a lifelong Southern ... Laude and his M.D from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He ... Los Angeles to complete his fellowship in hematology/oncology at the UCLA-Olive View-Cedars Sinai program ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... CA (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... A ... procedures that most people are unfamiliar with. The article goes on to state that ... but also many of these less common operations such as calf and cheek reduction. ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... Sessions in Dallas that it will receive two significant new grants to support ... as PHA marked its 25th anniversary by recognizing patients, medical professionals and scientists ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 Research and ... News Issue 52" report to their offering. ... influenza treatment creates a favourable commercial environment for MedImmune to ... patient base that will serve to drive considerable growth for ... would serve to cap sales considerably, but development is still ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. , June 23, 2016 ... 9:00 a.m. CST on Thursday, July 7, 2016 , , ... kayla.belcher@frost.com ) , , , , EXPERT PANELISTS:  ... Sciences, Nitin Naik; Senior Industry Analyst, Christi Bird; Senior Industry Analyst, ... The global pharmaceutical industry is witnessing ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... and BOGOTA, Colombia , June 23, 2016  Astellas today announced the establishment of ... Farma Brasil as the company,s second affiliate in Latin America . ... ... Manager of Astellas Farma Colombia ... ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: