Gene expression correlates of the cortical network underlying sentence processing

Kong, X., Tzourio-Mazoyer, N., Joliot, M., Fedorenko, E., Liu, J., Fisher, S. E., & Francks, C. (2020). Gene expression correlates of the cortical network underlying sentence processing. Neurobiology of Language, 1(1), 77-103. doi:10.1162/nol_a_00004.
A pivotal question in modern neuroscience is which genes regulate brain circuits that underlie cognitive functions. However, the field is still in its infancy. Here we report an integrated investigation of the high-level language network (i.e., sentence processing network) in the human cerebral cortex, combining regional gene expression profiles, task fMRI, large-scale neuroimaging meta-analysis, and resting-state functional network approaches. We revealed reliable gene expression-functional network correlations using three different network definition strategies, and identified a consensus set of genes related to connectivity within the sentence-processing network. The genes involved showed enrichment for neural development and actin-related functions, as well as association signals with autism, which can involve disrupted language functioning. Our findings help elucidate the molecular basis of the brain’s infrastructure for language. The integrative approach described here will be useful to study other complex cognitive traits.
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