The Imaging Genomics research group studies the genetics of language, brain disorders and laterality of the brain. For most people, the left and right sides of the human brain specialise in performing different functions and processing different types of information - in fact, much of our cognition is relatively lateralized to one side or the other.
Language is an excellent example of this lateralized function; in most people, several component processes are performed in the left side of the brain. Our research group is particularly interested in the genes that are involved in determining how the two hemispheres develop and function differently, for example by affecting how nerve cells carry signals and interact with each other.
Although it has been established that left-right asymmetry plays an important role in the way in which the human brain is organised, very little is known about the underlying molecular mechanisms. Our team of researchers is working hard to uncover new knowledge in this area. To find out more about what we are currently working on, visit our Projects page.
Based on an interview with Tulya Kavaklioglu, Videnskab journalist Kristian Sjøgren wrote an article on handedness research. The article (in Danish) can be found here.
Work on magnetic resonance images to measure anatomical asymmetries in the brain, and genome-wide analyses to identify genetic variants that affect these asymmetries, which links with Nijmegen's Cognomics programme, was featured in the Max Planck Forschung magazine (in German). A summary was also published in English.
An article titled "Why Am I Right-Handed?", written by FiveThirtyEight journalist Maggie Koert-Baker and based also on an interview with Tulya Kavaklioglu, addressed the links between handedness and genetics.
MPI research into the genetics and neurobiology of handedness featured widely in Dutch press coverage of International Left-Handers Day on 13 August, 2014. Tulio Guadalupe, a PhD student at the Language and Genetics Department, was interviewed for Hart van Nederland, a daily news magazine programme on TV channel SBS6.
Major daily newspaper de Volkskrant talked to MPI researchers Roel Willems and Daniel Casasanto to explore truths and myths about left-handedness. News website EditieNL covered a similar theme.
The group's research also received coverage in the New York Post:
13 April 2013 - Article: 'Left feat'
6 March 2011 - Article: 'On the left hand, there are no easy answers'