BAIAP2 is related to emotional modulation of human memory strength

PLoS One. 2014 Jan 2;9(1):e83707. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0083707. eCollection 2014.


Memory performance is the result of many distinct mental processes, such as memory encoding, forgetting, and modulation of memory strength by emotional arousal. These processes, which are subserved by partly distinct molecular profiles, are not always amenable to direct observation. Therefore, computational models can be used to make inferences about specific mental processes and to study their genetic underpinnings. Here we combined a computational model-based analysis of memory-related processes with high density genetic information derived from a genome-wide study in healthy young adults. After identifying the best-fitting model for a verbal memory task and estimating the best-fitting individual cognitive parameters, we found a common variant in the gene encoding the brain-specific angiogenesis inhibitor 1-associated protein 2 (BAIAP2) that was related to the model parameter reflecting modulation of verbal memory strength by negative valence. We also observed an association between the same genetic variant and a similar emotional modulation phenotype in a different population performing a picture memory task. Furthermore, using functional neuroimaging we found robust genotype-dependent differences in activity of the parahippocampal cortex that were specifically related to successful memory encoding of negative versus neutral information. Finally, we analyzed cortical gene expression data of 193 deceased subjects and detected significant BAIAP2 genotype-dependent differences in BAIAP2 mRNA levels. Our findings suggest that model-based dissociation of specific cognitive parameters can improve the understanding of genetic underpinnings of human learning and memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Genotype
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Parahippocampal Gyrus / physiology
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Young Adult


  • BAIAP2 protein, human
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger

Grant support

This work was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (Sinergia grants CRSIK0_122691, CRSI33_130080, CRSII1_136227 to DQ and AP), by the 7th framework programme of the European Union (ADAMS project, HEALTH-F4-2009-242257) and by the National Center for Competence in Research SYNAPSY. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.