Imaging genetics of cognitive functions: Focus on episodic memory

Neuroimage. 2010 Nov 15;53(3):870-7. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.01.001. Epub 2010 Jan 11.


Human cognitive functions are highly variable across individuals and are both genetically and environmentally influenced. Recent behavioral genetics studies have identified several common genetic polymorphisms, which are related to individual differences in memory performance. In addition, imaging genetics studies are starting to explore the neural correlates of genetic differences in memory functions on the level of brain circuits. In this review we will describe how functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) can be used to validate and extend findings of behavioral genetics studies of episodic memory and give examples of recent advances in this new and exciting research field. In addition, we will present advantages and problems related to the different sensitivity of behavioral- vs. imaging genetics studies and discuss possible methodological approaches for an appropriate evaluation and integration of the results. Although the field of imaging genetics of episodic memory is still young, it already became clear that imaging methods have a large potential to enhance our understanding of the neural mechanisms that underlie genetic differences in memory.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Sensitivity and Specificity