Introduction: There is growing interest in the role of single genes in cognitive functions. Association studies are the most commonly applied method in this field. This method assumes that the genetic information affecting cognitive processes is "static" and unchanging. However, there is accumulating evidence that dynamic genomic and epigenetic alterations can modulate complex cognitive processes, and influence susceptibility to disorders associated with impaired cognitive functioning.
Methods: We present an overview of genomic and epigenetic mechanisms, and discuss the cognitive and psychiatric consequences of genomic and genetic abnormalities.
Results: Genomic and epigenetic changes can affect complex cognitive functions, including learning and memory and are causative in several developmental and psychiatric disorders effecting language, social functioning and IQ.
Conclusions: Genomic and epigenetic disorders are "experiments of nature" that offer unique and valuable insight in to the physiology of general and specific cognitive functions.