Department of Psychology
Department of Psychology

Neuroscience: Dr. Genevieve Konopka,"Molecular Networks of Cognition"

Fri, February 14, 2020 | NHB 1.720

1:00 PM

Department of Neuroscience
Special Seminar Spring 2020

Genevieve Konopka, PhD
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Department of Neuroscience
Jon Heighten Scholar in Autism Research

“Molecular Networks of Cognition”

Friday, February 14
NHB 1.720, 1 pm

Hosted by Dr. Nace Golding

See website


Abstract: It has been hypothesized that one of the consequences of the highly evolved cognitive capacity of the human brain is the development of increased vulnerability to cognitive disorders. Technical breakthroughs in genomics have allowed us to begin to identify genetic and molecular signatures in the central nervous system that distinguish humans from non-human primates. We have identified novel human-specific patterns of gene expression and regulation in the neocortex. These data suggest that the human brain has undergone rapid modifications of gene expression patterns to support our enhanced cognitive abilities. Moreover, using a cell-type specific approach, we have surprisingly uncovered accelerated changes in oligodendrocytes that are relevant to schizophrenia pathophysiology. We have carried out functional follow up of a number of these genes with human-specific co-expression patterns, focusing on genes that regulate transcription and/or mRNA splicing. These new data have uncovered additional gene co-expression patterns and molecular pathways that might be involved in human disorders of cognition. Finally, we have also focused on two members of the FOXP family of transcription factors, FOXP1 and FOXP2, which have been linked to monogenetic forms of intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorders, and specific speech and language deficits.  We have found that FOXP1 and FOXP2 are key orchestrators of transcriptional signaling cascades in a cell type-specific manner that are important for neuronal function and are at risk in neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism.


Sponsored by: Department of Neuroscience

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