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Katerina Kucera -

Research

My interests lie in understanding the role that genetics, genomics and epigenetics play in shaping human language.

I am investigating the apparent genetic cause of a rare inherited disorder of semantic cognition in a multigenerational family using next generation sequencing and linkage methods.

I also use next generation sequencing, linkage and association approaches to elucidate the genetic basis of synaesthesia. Synaesthesia is a cognitive trait characteristic by cross stimulation of different sensory domains that occurs in estimated 2-5% of the population. For some of our studies we are focusing on grapheme colour synaesthetes, for whom graphemes, such as letters and/or numbers, but also days of the week, or months in a year are involuntarily associated with colours. We are collecting a large cohort of individuals and families with synaesthetic experiences to search for candidate regions in their genomes that are associated with this fascinating and complex trait. For more information please see our page on the genetics of synaesthesia.

I am further involved in a study investigating the role of sex chromosome aneuploidy in specific language impairment in a collaboration with Prof Dorothy Bishop. This project has strong ties to my previous graduate work under the supervision of  Prof Huntington Willard at Duke University in the U.S.A., during which I profiled expression of genes on the inactive X chromosome in human females. Normal variation in expression of genes that “escape” from inactivation contributes to phenotypic variation in human females and has, as of yet unclear, implications for individuals with sex chromosome aneuploidy. It is known that persons with an extra sex chromosome are at higher risk of language impairment; however, the underlying mechanism is unknown. In this work we investigate how the additional chromosome in sex chromosome trisomies might affect genes elsewhere in the genome.

Last checked 2015-08-23

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Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
PO Box 310
6500 AH Nijmegen
The Netherlands
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Fax:
+31-24-3521213