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Investigating the role of the X-linked EFHC2 gene on social cognition in healthy males

Startin, CM; (2013) Investigating the role of the X-linked EFHC2 gene on social cognition in healthy males. Doctoral thesis (PhD), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Facial emotion recognition and theory of mind abilities are important aspects of social cognition. Genes within the X chromosome may influence these abilities as males show increased vulnerability to impaired social cognition compared to females. An influence of a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), rs7055196 (found within the X-linked EFHC2 gene), on facial fear recognition abilities has recently been reported in Turner Syndrome. This thesis explores the influence of SNP rs7055196 on aspects of social cognition in healthy males. Males possessing the G allele showed poorer facial fear recognition accuracy compared to males possessing the A allele. This group difference in fear recognition accuracy was not due to a difference in gaze fixations made to the eye or mouth regions. Males possessing the G allele also showed smaller N170 amplitudes in response to faces compared to males possessing the A allele. These results suggest males possessing the A allele may use a more holistic / configural face processing mechanism compared to males possessing the G allele, and this difference may account for the difference in fear recognition accuracy between the groups. Males possessing the G allele were also less accurate at inferring others’ mental states during the Reading the Mind in the Eyes task, and showed reduced activity in the right superior temporal gyrus, left inferior parietal lobule and left cingulate gyrus during this task compared to males possessing the A allele. SNP rs7055196 may therefore also influence theory of mind abilities, with males possessing the A allele showing better theory of mind than those possessing the G allele. This result may reflect higher empathising abilities in the males possessing the A allele. These results suggest an influence of SNP rs7055196 on social cognitive abilities in males. This may help to explain the sex difference in vulnerability to impaired social cognition.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: PhD
Title: Investigating the role of the X-linked EFHC2 gene on social cognition in healthy males
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1388217
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