Article

Intermediate phenotypes in psychiatric disorders.

Clinical Brain Disorders Branch, Genes, Cognition, and Psychosis Program, NIMH, NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA.
Current opinion in genetics & development (Impact Factor: 8.57). 03/2011; 21(3):340-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.gde.2011.02.003
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The small effect size of most individual risk factors for psychiatric disorders likely reflects biological heterogeneity and diagnostic imprecision, which has encouraged genetic studies of intermediate biological phenotypes that are closer to the molecular effects of risk genes than are the clinical symptoms. Neuroimaging-based intermediate phenotypes have emerged as particularly promising because they map risk associated gene effects onto physiological processes in brain that are altered in patients and in their healthy relatives. Recent evidence using this approach has elucidated discrete, dissociable biological mechanisms of risk genes at the level of neural circuitries, and their related cognitive functions. This approach may greatly contribute to our understanding of the genetics and pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders.

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