Combining Genetic Structural Equation modelling (GSEM) of GWAS data and neurocomputational modelling to understand the specificity of genetic effects on neurocognitive development

Michael Thomas (primary)
Department of Psychological Sciences
Birkbeck, University of London
Emma Meaburn (secondary)
Department of Psychological Sciences
Birkbeck, University of London


Genome wide association analyses (GWAS) have revealed correlations between genetic variation and high-level cognitive traits such as reading ability, but there is limited understanding of the mechanisms that link gene expression via brain development to cognitive outcomes. Recent neuroanatomically constrained connectionist models of development and multi-scale models allow this gap to be bridged, if the specificity of genetic effects on brain function can be understood. State-of-the-art methods in Genetic Structural Equation Modelling (GSEM) allow data from multiple existing GWAS to be combined to assess specificity of genetic effects across phenotypes, and gene expression atlases allow the linking of these effects to neurocomputational properties. This interdisciplinary work will combine Meaburn’s expertise in GWAS and GSEM with Thomas’s expertise in neurocomputational modelling in an innovative bridging project between genetics, brain, and cognition.


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Genes, development and STEM* approaches to biology
Area of Biology
Techniques & Approaches
GeneticsSimulation / Modelling