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Axon guidance gene influences reward system

People with a DCC gene mutation were less impulsive, smoked cigarettes less than non-carriers

Society for Neuroscience

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IMAGE: Clockwise from bottom left: Human DCC mutation carriers exhibit a significant reduction in putamen volumes (red). These same mutation carriers also exhibit reductions in mesolimbic and mesocortical tracts, with the... view more 

Credit: Andrew Wood, Yu Zhang and Daniel E. Vosberg

Individuals with a mutation in a gene involved in nervous system development have reduced connectivity between regions of the brain's reward system, finds a study of a four-generation Canadian family published in JNeurosci.

The DCC gene directs axons where they need to go in the developing nervous system. Previous research in rodents has found altered pathways between the limbic system and the cortex in mice with a faulty copy of the DCC gene that results in a reduced response to stimulants such as amphetamine.

Extending these findings to humans, Marco Leyton, Cecilia Flores, and colleagues found similar connectivity differences in 20 DCC mutation carriers compared to two control groups of 16 related non-carriers and 20 unrelated healthy adults. The researchers found that those with the mutation showed reduced connectivity among the substantia nigra, ventral tegmental area, and frontal brain regions as well as reduced volume in the striatum (a finding that was confirmed in mice). Analysis of personality traits and substance use revealed that the mutation carriers were less impulsive and smoked cigarettes less than non-carriers.

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Article: Mesocorticolimbic Connectivity and Volumetric Alterations in DCC Mutation Carriers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3251-17.2018

Corresponding authors: Marco Leyton, marco.leyton@mcgill.ca and Cecilia Flores, cecilia.flores@mcgill.ca

About JNeurosci

JNeurosci, the Society for Neuroscience's first journal, was launched in 1981 as a means to communicate the findings of the highest quality neuroscience research to the growing field. Today, the journal remains committed to publishing cutting-edge neuroscience that will have an immediate and lasting scientific impact, while responding to authors' changing publishing needs, representing breadth of the field and diversity in authorship.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

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