Decoding the molecular evolution of human cognition using comparative genomics

Noriyoshi Usui, Marissa Co, Genevieve Konopka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Identification of genetic and molecular factors responsible for the specialized cognitive abilities of humans is expected to provide important insights into the mechanisms responsible for disorders of cognition such as autism, schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease. Here, we discuss the use of comparative genomics for identifying salient genes and gene networks that may underlie cognition. We focus on the comparison of human and non-human primate brain gene expression and the utility of building gene coexpression networks for prioritizing hundreds of genes that differ in expression among the species queried. We also discuss the importance of and methods for functional studies of the individual genes identified. Together, this integration of comparative genomics with cellular and animal models should provide improved systems for developing effective therapeutics for disorders of cognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-116
Number of pages14
JournalBrain, Behavior and Evolution
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 7 2014


  • Autism
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive diseases
  • Comparative genomics
  • FOXP2
  • Human brain evolution
  • Weighted gene coexpression network analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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