Could your DNA predict memory decline? By uploading raw DNA data, you might learn about your hippocampal volume.
How much thought do you give to your hippocampus?
Although we all know that overall brain health is extremely important, most of us don’t really think about the various functions of different areas of the brain. Nevertheless, the health and strength of the individual parts of the brain can affect us in numerous ways. One area of the brain that has received extensive study is the hippocampus.
The hippocampus is a seahorse-shaped portion of the brain (the term comes from the Greek word for seahorse). It is a structurally complex region located within the temporal lobe that is directly connected to numerous functions. These include spatial awareness, cognitive abilities, stress response, and episodic memories.
Additionally, the hippocampus is believed to regulate hypothalamic functions, which are the hormone system controls. These controls effectively manage the hormone output of the adrenal glands, reproductive organs, and thyroid.
While hippocampal volume is believed to affect cognition and memory, it has not yet been proven. However, anatomical variations in hippocampal volume and structure are present in multiple neuropsychiatric disorders. The hippocampus is particularly vulnerable to neurological disruptions, some of which can lead to severe medical consequences.
It is generally believed that, when it comes to hippocampal volume, bigger is better!
A genome-wide association study (GWAS) was performed on more than 33,500 participants. The researchers wanted to see if our genes were responsible for our hippocampal structure.
The study identified six independent chromosomal locations that appear to link to hippocampal volume.
The data indicate the presence of novel biological pathways, which are actions within a cell that trigger – or inhibit – certain activities. Though more research is needed, this study indicates that we might inherit traits that affect our cognitive ability.
The results of this study strongly support the theory that genetic variation influences hippocampal volume. This phenomenon could be a potentially significant factor in the development of neuropsychiatric illnesses like depression, addiction, palsies, autism, and Alzheimer’s disease.
In 2021, this study was cited by The Worldwide Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. The Worldwide Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative is an organization that seeks to identify biological markers that could inform trials for Alzheimer's treatments.
While it's not yet certain, it is possible that identifying certain genetic traits could be tremendously beneficial for determining the most effective Alzheimer’s therapies and prevention measures. Moreover, some studies have found that cardiovascular fitness might improve hippocampal volume in older adults who have not yet experienced memory decline.
If you have taken an at-home DNA test from a testing service like AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, or 23andMe, you can access your raw DNA file. You can use this file to learn more about how your genes might influence different biological processes.
At Genomelink, we offer genetic analysis for a diverse spectrum of traits. We can provide you with a report detailing how your genetic makeup might factor into different conditions, empowering you with the information you need to be proactive about your health.
To learn more about your genetic makeup and if you could be predisposed to reduced hippocampal volume, simply upload your DNA file to Genomelink for a full analysis.
Learn more about your genetic potential by signing up with Genomelink today!