Chapter 13. Memory, Learning, and Development
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By Bruce Bower Children with autism may understand more about how other people think than they’re usually given credit for. The trick to exposing this awareness, a new study finds, is to motivate these youngsters to show what they know. In a lab game that requires a child to compete with two adults for a prize, many kids with autism demonstrate insight into how other people’s thoughts shape their behavior, say psychologist Candida Peterson of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, and her colleagues. The finding suggests that previous research testing this ability, called theory of mind, underestimates how well youngsters with autism can interpret other people’s actions, Peterson’s team reports March 19 in Developmental Science. Studies published since 1985 have found that most high-functioning individuals with autism — those who have serious social and language problems but average or better IQs — fail a standard theory of mind test at least through adolescence. Kids without autism usually pass the test by age 5. In the standard test, called the Sally-Anne test, children watch an experimenter play with a doll named Sally, who has a covered basket, and a doll named Anne, who has a box. Sally puts a marble in her basket and leaves. Anne moves Sally’s marble to the box. Kids with autism usually indicate that, when Sally returns, she will look for her marble in the box, failing to recognize that Sally falsely believes the marble remains in her basket. © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2013
Link ID: 17960 - Posted: 03.28.2013
A lack of a protein in Down's syndrome brains could be the cause of learning and memory problems, says a US study. Writing in Nature Medicine, Californian researchers found that the extra copy of chromosome 21 in people with the condition triggered the protein loss. Their study found restoring the protein in Down's syndrome mice improved cognitive function and behaviour. The Down's Syndrome Association said the study was interesting but the causes of Down's were very complex. Prof Huaxi Xu, senior author of the study from the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, said that in experiments on mice they discovered that the SNX27 protein was important for brain function and memory formation. Mice with less SNX27 had fewer active glutamate receptors and therefore had impaired learning and memory. The SNX27-deficient mice shared some characteristics with Down's syndrome, so the researchers looked at human brains with the condition. This confirmed their findings in the lab - that people with Down's syndrome also have significantly lower levels of SNX27. BBC © 2013
Michael Corballis, professor of cognitive neuroscience and psychology at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, responds: Although teaching people to become ambidextrous has been popular for centuries, this practice does not appear to improve brain function, and it may even harm our neural development. Calls for ambidexterity were especially prominent in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For instance, in the early 20th century English propagandist John Jackson established the Ambidextral Culture Society in pursuit of universal ambidexterity and “two-brainedness” for the betterment of society. This hype died down in the mid-20th century as benefits of being ambidextrous failed to materialize. Given that handedness is apparent early in life and the vast majority of people are right-handed, we are almost certainly dextral by nature. Recent evidence even associated being ambidextrous from birth with developmental problems, including reading disability and stuttering. A study of 11-year-olds in England showed that those who are naturally ambidextrous are slightly more prone to academic difficulties than either left- or right-handers. Research in Sweden found ambidextrous children to be at a greater risk for developmental conditions such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Another study, which my colleagues and I conducted, revealed that ambidextrous children and adults both performed worse than left- or right-handers on a range of skills, especially in math, memory retrieval and logical reasoning. © 2013 Scientific American
By Felicity Muth This move from my old site to the Scientific American network has also coincided with my own physical move from the UK to the USA to start some new research. Given this is the closing of a chapter of my life (or rather, my PhD thesis, which will now no doubt sit on a dusty shelf somewhere until a grad student picks it up in 10 years time to use as a door stop), I felt now might be an appropriate time to write a little bit about what I have been doing for the past three years. In the past I have only written about other people’s research, but given that I am now a few months beyond the shock (I will resist using the word ‘trauma’ here) of it ‘all being over’, I feel like it might be time now to share a bit of what I did over my PhD. In one of my first meetings with my PhD supervisor, she said to me, ‘The way that I see it, you can either spend three months reading the limited amount of literature in your subject area, or you can go to Africa and get some data for yourself.’ This may have been the point where I realised I had chosen a good topic to study. Not only did not having much ‘literature’ to read due to the dearth of previous work done on this topic mean that I could kid myself that I was an ‘expert’ in the field after a few weeks, it was also liberating to know that most experiments that I carried out would be finding out new things. So, even before moving my books into my new PhD office, I was on a plane to Botswana to collect data on the nest building behaviour of the Southern masked weaverbird. When I tell people that the aim of my research is to work out how birds learn how to build nests, I usually get one of two responses. The first is, ‘they don’t learn anything of course, nest building in birds is innate.’ The other response is ‘surely that’s been done already?’ But actually, both of these (perfectly reasonable) assumptions are incorrect. © 2013 Scientific American,
Keyword: Learning & Memory
Link ID: 17939 - Posted: 03.23.2013
By Tina Hesman Saey Like many women with parents of the Mad Men generation, Susan Murphy grew up in a household full of cigarette smoke. Both dad and mom smoked heavily, even while Murphy was still in her mother’s womb. “That explains a lot,” Murphy quips, poking fun at herself. But Murphy isn’t worried about her own health. She’s fine. Her children aren’t, though. One boy died of cancer as a toddler. Another has autism. And her daughter has attention deficit disorder. Murphy knows the scientific evidence isn’t in yet, but she still can’t help wondering whether their fates might have been affected by her exposure to tobacco smoke before she was born. Murphy, a researcher at Duke University, studies links between a mother’s diet and chemical exposures during pregnancy with the child’s later health. She and others have established that the womb is the antithesis of Las Vegas; what happens there not only doesn’t stay there, it can influence a child’s health for life. Now, animal studies and a smattering of human data suggest such prenatal effects could reach farther down the family tree: The vices, virtues, inadvertent actions and accidental exposures of a pregnant mother may pose health consequences for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and perhaps even their offspring. Scientists have long known that radiation or certain chemicals can cause typos in a developing fetus’s genome — his or her genetic instruction book. Such mutations can get passed along to future generations in the DNA of sperm or egg cells. While exposure to sex hormones or a high-fat diet in the womb doesn’t directly change or damage DNA, those sorts of exposures can induce scribblings in the genome’s margins that can also be passed down. © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2013
By Smitha Mundasad Health reporter, BBC News The risk of developing autism may be passed on through - and not just to - future generations, researchers say. The international study suggests older fathers are more likely to have grandchildren with autism than their younger counterparts. The mechanism is unclear but it is thought they may transmit "silent mutations" to their grandchildren. But experts have urged caution, stressing autism is the result of many different factors. The study, looking at almost 6,000 people with the condition, is published in the journal Jama Psychiatry. According to the National Autistic Society, more than one in every 100 people in the UK have the condition. Previous studies suggested older fathers may be at greater risk of having children with autism than younger dads. But the team of UK, Swedish and Australian researchers say this is one of the first pieces of evidence to show the risk can be passed on through - rather than just straight to - future generations. The "silent mutations" - changes in genetic material - are likely to have no obvious impact on older fathers' own children, but they may build up through subsequent generations, or interact with other genes and environmental factors, to increase the chance of their grandchildren developing the condition, the researchers say. BBC © 2013
by Peter Aldhous Women abused in childhood are more likely to have children with autism, a new epidemiological study suggests. The finding adds a disturbing new dimension to the heated debate over the condition's underlying causes. Andrea Roberts of the Harvard School of Public Health suspected that there might be a link between childhood abuse and having an autistic child: women abused early in life are more likely to smoke, suffer from gestational diabetes and have premature babies – all factors that may affect fetal brain development. To investigate, Roberts and her colleagues turned to the Nurses' Health Study II, which includes almost 55,000 women who had indicated if they had a child with autism spectrum disorder and also answered a questionnaire about their experience of abuse as a child. This allowed the researchers to develop a scale rating all the women for the intensity of abuse in their childhood. There was a clear link between the "dose" of abuse received and the risk of having an autistic child. "The associations get stronger as the level of abuse increases," Roberts says. After accounting for demographic factors such as age and socioeconomic status, the 2 per cent of women who reported the most serious childhood abuse – who were frequently hit and also sexually abused – were about 3.5 times as likely to have a child with autism as those who reported no abuse at all. "I think it's a really interesting, innovative and well-conducted study," says Hannah Gardener at the University of Miami in Florida. "There aren't a lot of risk factors with that magnitude." © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.
At 7 months of age, children who are later diagnosed with autism take a split second longer to shift their gaze during a task measuring eye movements and visual attention than do typically developing infants of the same age, according to researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health. The difference between the groups’ test results was 25 to 50 milliseconds on average, the researchers found, too brief to be detected in social interactions with an infant. However, they showed that this measurable delay could be accounted for by differences in the structure and organization of actively developing neurological circuits of a child’s brain. Image of brain structure known as the splenium of the corpus callosum When they were infants, children who were later diagnosed with autism took longer to shift their gaze during a measure of eye movements than did infants who were not diagnosed with autism. The researchers believe that brain circuits involved with a brain structure known as the splenium of the corpus callosum (shown in this scan) may account for the differences in gaze shifting between the two groups. Image courtesy of Jason Wolff, Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Efficiently shifting attention early in infancy is thought to be important for later social and cognitive development. Split-second delays, the researchers suggested, could be a precursor to such well known symptoms of autism as difficulty making eye contact or following a parent’s pointing finger, problems that generally emerge after a child turns 1. Typically, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is not diagnosed until after 3 or 4 years of age. The study appears in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
By Bruce Bower Malnutrition in the first year life, even when followed by a good diet and restored physical health, predisposes people to a troubled personality at age 40, new research suggests. The study of 77 formerly malnourished people represents the first evidence linking malnutrition shortly after birth to adult personality traits. The traits in some cases may foretell psychiatric problems, says a team led by psychiatrist Janina Galler of Harvard Medical School in Boston and psychologist Paul Costa of Duke University Medical Center in Durham. Compared with peers who were well-fed throughout their lives, formerly malnourished men and women reported markedly more anxiety, vulnerability to stress, hostility, mistrust of others, anger and depression, Galler’s team reports March 12 in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Survivors of early malnutrition also cited relatively little intellectual curiosity, social warmth, cooperativeness and willingness to try new experiences and to work hard at achieving goals. Previous studies of people exposed prenatally to famine have reported increased rates of certain personality disorders and schizophrenia. Another investigation found that malnutrition at age 3 predisposed youngsters on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius to delinquent and aggressive behavior at ages 8, 11 and 17. As is true in the new study, distrust of others, anxiety and depression often accompany high levels of anger, says psychologist Adrian Raine of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, who directed the Mauritius research. “Poor nutrition early in life seems to predispose individuals to a suspicious personality, which may then fuel a hostile attitude toward others,” Raine proposes. © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2013
A staggering 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia, says a new U.S. report that highlights the impact the mind-destroying disease is having on the rapidly aging population. Dying with Alzheimer's is not the same as dying from it. But even when dementia isn't the direct cause of death, it can be the final blow — speeding someone's decline by interfering with their care for heart disease, cancer or other serious illnesses. That's the assessment of the report released Tuesday by the Alzheimer's Association, which advocates for more research and support for families afflicted by it. "Exacerbated aging," is how Dr. Maria Carrillo, an association vice president, terms the Alzheimer's effect. "It changes any health care situation for a family." In fact, only 30 per cent of 70-year-olds who don't have Alzheimer's are expected to die before their 80th birthday. But if they do have dementia, 61 per cent are expected to die, the report found. Already, 5.2 million Americans have Alzheimer's or some other form of dementia. Those numbers will jump to 13.8 million by 2050, Tuesday's report predicts. That's slightly lower than some previous estimates. Count just the deaths directly attributed to dementia, and they're growing fast. Nearly 85,000 people died from Alzheimer's in 2011, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated in a separate report Tuesday. Those are people who had Alzheimer's listed as an underlying cause on a death certificate, perhaps because the dementia led to respiratory failure. Those numbers make Alzheimer's the sixth leading cause of death. © CBC 2013
Link ID: 17927 - Posted: 03.20.2013
When the mind is at rest, the electrical signals by which brain cells communicate appear to travel in reverse, wiping out unimportant information in the process, but sensitizing the cells for future sensory learning, according to a study of rats conducted by researchers at the National Institutes of Health. The finding has implications not only for studies seeking to help people learn more efficiently, but also for attempts to understand and treat post-traumatic stress disorder — in which the mind has difficulty moving beyond a disturbing experience. During waking hours, electrical signals travel from dendrites — antenna-like projections at one end of the cell — through the cell body. From the cell body, they then travel the length of the axon, a single long projection at the other end of the cell. This electrical signal stimulates the release of chemicals at the end of the axon, which bind to dendrites on adjacent cells, stimulating these recipient cells to fire electrical signals, and so on. When groups of cells repeatedly fire in this way, the electrical signals increase in intensity. Dr. Bukalo and her team examined electrical signals that traveled in reverse?from the cell’s axon, to the cell body, and out its many dendrites. The reverse firing, depicted in this diagram, happens during sleep and at rest, appearing to reset the cell and priming it to learn new information. It was previously known that, during sleep, these impulses were reversed, arising from waves of electrical activity originating deep within the brain. In the current study, the researchers found that these reverse signals weakened circuits formed during waking hours, apparently so that unimportant information could be erased from the brain. But the reverse signals also appeared to prime the brain to relearn at least some of the forgotten information. If the animals encountered the same information upon awakening, the circuits re-formed much more rapidly than when they originally encountered the information.
Peter Fimrite Scientists at Stanford University have tapped into the mind of the mouse and are now circulating information about how the pesky rodents think. A team of Stanford researchers planted tiny probes inside the brains of mice to detect what were essentially mouse memories, according to a study published last month in the online edition of Nature Neuroscience. The experiment involved the insertion of a needlelike microscope into the hippocampus - a part of the brain associated with spatial and episodic memory. The microscope detected cellular activity and broadcast digital images through a cell phone camera sensor that fit like a hat over the heads of the critters as they scampered around an enclosure. "We're not really reading their minds," said the lead researcher, Mark Schnitzer, who is an associate professor of biology and applied physics at Stanford. "What is the mind of a mouse, anyway? I don't know. What we're doing is reading a spatial map in the brain. It is one little component of many, many processes that are going on inside." Over the course of a month, the scientists were able to document patterns of activity in some 700 neurons and pinpoint areas of the brain where mice store long-term information. It is important, Schnitzer said, because long-term memory is an area of the brain that researchers are struggling to understand as they attempt to develop new therapies for neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease. "Those are clearly diseases in which information storage has been impaired," Schnitzer said. "Now that we can look at the neural code for how the spatial information is stored, it opens the door directly to subsequent experiments. That's the logical next step." © 2013 Hearst Communications Inc.
Keyword: Learning & Memory
Link ID: 17908 - Posted: 03.18.2013
By Christie Aschwanden, A lawyer contacted Beatrice Golomb, a physician at the VA San Diego Healthcare Center, because he could no longer follow a normal conversation with his clients. A radiologist told Golomb that he found himself suddenly unable to distinguish left from right. A third person told her he had grown so forgetful that his doctor assumed he had Alzheimer’s. All three had developed their memory problems after taking a cholesterol-lowering statin drug, and the symptoms improved after they stopped the medication. The statin revolution began in 1987, when lovastatin was approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Since then, this class of drugs has transformed cardiac medicine, says Allen Taylor, chief of cardiology at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. “Cardiovascular disease affects one in two people. This is the one drug that works.” But these drugs are not without risks. Golomb has amassed thousands of reports at her Web site Statineffects.com, detailing adverse reactions from statins. She says that cognitive problems are the second-most-common side effect reported in her database, after muscle pain. In a 2009 report in the journal Pharmacotherapy, Golomb described 171 patients who’d reported cognitive problems after taking statins. The idea that a cholesterol-lowering drug could make your brain fuzzy might sound crazy, and Golomb says the notion was greeted with suspicion at first. But eventually the FDA received enough such reports that last February it ordered drug companies to add a new warning label about possible memory problems. © 1996-2013 The Washington Post
Keyword: Learning & Memory
Link ID: 17905 - Posted: 03.15.2013
By GINA KOLATA The Food and Drug Administration plans to loosen the rules for approving new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. Drugs in clinical trial would qualify for approval if people at very early stages of the disease subtly improved their performance on memory or reasoning tests, even before they developed any obvious impairments. Companies would not have to show that the drugs improved daily, real-world functioning. For more than a decade, the only way to get Alzheimer’s drugs to market was with studies showing that they improved the ability of patients not only to think and remember, but also to function day to day at activities like feeding, dressing or bathing themselves. The proposal, published online Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, could help millions of people at risk of developing the disease by speeding the development and approval of drugs that might slow or prevent it. The proposed policy could also be a boon for the pharmaceutical industry and researchers. They have often felt stymied by regulations that left them uncertain of how to get drugs tested and approved for marketing to people early in the course of Alzheimer’s, when the medications are most likely to be useful. Several studies are being planned for people at high risk of developing Alzheimer’s, and the proposed regulations should lead to even more clinical trials, said Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, an Alzheimer’s researcher and professor of psychiatry at Duke University School of Medicine. © 2013 The New York Times Company
Link ID: 17904 - Posted: 03.15.2013
By Jan Brogan Paula Driscoll had a hard time sitting still as a kid, doodled a lot, and often wrestled with the feeling that she should be accomplishing more. But she made it through high school and college and became an elementary school teacher. With three small children at home, she did not feel she had trouble managing her life. But when her youngest child went to school, she found herself with what felt like too much time on her hands. “I couldn’t get anything done,” she said. “I had one room I started to paint, another I was going to reorganize, and I could never complete a task. I couldn’t stay in the house. I went out on one errand after the next.” Driscoll was 45 when she was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. ADHD, a neurobiological disorder that makes it difficult to focus and can also include hyperactivity and impulsivity, has historically been viewed as a childhood disease. Over the last couple decades, research has shown that many of those afflicted carry symptoms into adulthood. The latest study, led by a Boston Children’s Hospital researcher and published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, suggests that nearly 30 percent of those with childhood ADHD still have the condition as adults — often after discontinuing treatment. The researchers followed hundreds of children with ADHD into adulthood and reported that the majority had mental health problems such as alcohol or drug dependence, anxiety, depression, or a personality disorder. © 2012 NY Times Co.
British researchers have developed a test to detect Alzheimer's disease in its earliest stages. It works by looking for a combination of "markers" in the blood which are different in healthy people and those with the disease. Delegates at the Alzheimer's Research UK Conference heard that the University of Nottingham is now developing a quick and easy test to do in clinics. It could mean much earlier diagnosis and better treatments, they said. The test uses some proteins that have been strongly linked with Alzheimer's disease, such as amyloid and APOE. But through careful analysis of blood from people with the disease, as well as those with early-stage memory problems, the researchers detected some other markers that were suggestive of the disease. Most notably, some proteins related to inflammation seem to have been added to increase the power of the test. Prof Kevin Morgan from the University of Nottingham said they still had to validate the test and it could be a decade before it was used in patients. But he added that the combination of markers they had found was looking very promising. BBC © 2013
Link ID: 17889 - Posted: 03.11.2013
by Moheb Costandi Mice transplanted with a once-discounted class of human brain cells have better memories and learning abilities than normal counterparts, according to a new study. Far from a way to engineer smarter rodents, the work suggests that human brain evolution involved a major upgrade to cells called astrocytes. Astrocytes are one of several types of glia, the other cells found alongside neurons in the nervous system. Although long thought to merely provide support and nourishment for neurons, it's now clear that astrocytes are vital for proper brain function. They are produced during development from stem cells called glial progenitors. In 2009, Steven Goldman of the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York and his colleagues reported that human astrocytes are bigger, and have about 10 times as many fingerlike projections that contact other brain cells and blood vessels, than those of mice. To further investigate these differences, they have more recently grafted fluorescently labeled human glial progenitors into the brains of newborn mice and examined the animals when they reached adulthood. Most of the grafted cells remained as progenitors, but some matured into typical human-looking astrocytes. They connected to their mouse counterparts to form astrocyte networks that transmitted electrical signals. Furthermore, they propagated internal signals about three times faster than the mouse astrocytes and improved the strengthening of connections between neurons in the hippocampus, a process thought to be critical for learning and memory. © 2010 American Association for the Advancement of Science.
By Deborah Kotz, Globe Staff No doubt, the biggest appeal of exercise is to build biceps, heart muscle, and perhaps some definition in those abdominal muscles, but how about using exercise to build your brain? It’s been known for some time that exercise can lift your mood, ward off depression, and help the brain age more gracefully -- free of memory loss and dementia. But now researchers have found that even just one bout of exercise can -- even better than a cup of coffee -- improve your mental focus and cognitive performance for any challenging task you face that day. A new analysis of 19 studies involving 586 kids, teens, and young adults that was published Wednesday in the British Medical Journal found that short 10 to 40 minutes bursts of exercise led to an immediate boost in concentration and mental focus, likely by improving blood flow to the brain. “These results provide further evidence that doing about 20 minutes of exercise just before taking a test or giving a speech can improve performance,” said Harvard psychiatrist Dr. John Ratey, who wrote the best-selling book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. Another piece of proof can be seen in the brain scan above -- from a 2009 University of Illinois study also included in the new analysis -- which compares the brain activity of 9-year-olds who took a brisk walk and those who didn’t take a walk. The walkers had far more activity in brain regions involved with focused attention and filtering out noisy distractions while they were taking a challenging test compared to the non-walkers. © 2013 NY Times Co.
Keyword: Learning & Memory
Link ID: 17881 - Posted: 03.09.2013
by Andy Coghlan Stimulating the brain with electrical signals can sharpen some of your faculties, but now it seems it can dim others at the same time. Transcranial electrical stimulation (TES), delivered by electrodes on the surface of the head, has been shown to double people's speed of learning. Now the first evidence has emerged that improvements in one aspect of learning might come at the expense of other abilities. Roi Cohen Kadosh of the University of Oxford, showed volunteers pairs of unfamiliar symbols. Each symbol had a secret numerical value, and the volunteers' task was to state – as quickly as possible while avoiding mistakes – which symbol in a pair had the bigger value. The correct answer was then displayed. Over six sessions in one week, it was possible to measure how quickly and efficiently the volunteers learned the value of each symbol. Second task In a second task, participants had to register which of each pair of symbols was physically larger, a measure of automatic thinking. "Automaticity is the skill of doing things without thinking about them, such as reading, driving or mounting stairs," says Cohen Kadosh, who conducted the experiment with Teresa Iucalano of the Stanford Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience Laboratory in Palo Alto, California. During the experiments, volunteers received TES to their posterior parietal cortex – vital for numerical learning – or their dorsolateral prefrontal cortex – vital for automaticity. Some unknowingly received a sham treatment. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.
Keyword: Learning & Memory
Link ID: 17877 - Posted: 03.09.2013
By GINA KOLATA The psychiatric illnesses seem very different — schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism, major depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Yet they share several genetic glitches that can nudge the brain along a path to mental illness, researchers report. Which disease, if any, develops is thought to depend on other genetic or environmental factors. Their study, published online Wednesday in the Lancet, was based on an examination of genetic data from more than 60,000 people worldwide. Its authors say it is the largest genetic study yet of psychiatric disorders. The findings strengthen an emerging view of mental illness that aims to make diagnoses based on the genetic aberrations underlying diseases instead of on the disease symptoms. Two of the aberrations discovered in the new study were in genes used in a major signaling system in the brain, giving clues to processes that might go awry and suggestions of how to treat the diseases. “What we identified here is probably just the tip of an iceberg,” said Dr. Jordan Smoller, lead author of the paper and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. “As these studies grow we expect to find additional genes that might overlap.” The new study does not mean that the genetics of psychiatric disorders are simple. Researchers say there seem to be hundreds of genes involved and the gene variations discovered in the new study confer only a small risk of psychiatric disease. Steven McCarroll, director of genetics for the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of Harvard and M.I.T., said it was significant that the researchers had found common genetic factors that pointed to a specific signaling system. © 2013 The New York Times Company