nearly every year, our research teams attend conference wearing tea shirts with the theme of our presented projects. One year, we arrived in a shirt representing Zimbardo and a time study we replicated. It was a fun group!

What we are reading today!

“Most kids say they love their mom and dad equally, but there are times when even the best prefers one parent over the other. The same can be said for how the body’s cells treat our DNA instructions. It has long been thought that each copy – one inherited from mom and one from dad – is treated the same. A new study from scientists at the University of Utah School of Medicine shows that it is not uncommon for cells in the brain to preferentially activate one copy over the other. The finding breaks basic tenants of classic genetics and suggests new ways in which genetic mutations might cause brain disorders. ”

““Even 50,000 years after the last human-Neanderthal mating, we can still see measurable impacts on gene expression,” says geneticist and study co-author Joshua Akey of the University of Washington School of Medicine. “And those variations in gene expression contribute to human phenotypic variation and disease susceptibility.””

“The sensory thalamus, a small structure located between the brain stem and the cortex, is an important gateway to the brain. Sensory information-what we see, hear, taste or feel-first passes through the thalamus before being processed in higher brain areas and the sensory thalamus was long thought to be the brain’s relay station.”

multiple migrations to the Americas as viewed from skulls

“For many years, it was believed that a single wave of ancient immigrants made their way from Asia to North America and eventually to South America—the first people to exist in the New World. But that view has been challenged in more recent years. In this new effort, the researchers describe evidence they have found that suggests the first settlers of the New World may have come from more than one place.”

“SALT LAKE CITY — DNA research and its application in family history is changing family history, said CeCe Moore, a genetic genealogist who runs DNA Detectives, at the RootsTech family history and technology conference on Saturday at the Salt Palace.

“Our genealogy is truly coming alive through our DNA,” Moore said. “Genetic genealogy is turning traditional genealogy upside down.””

genetic changes early in human development

“”As a part of the clinical evaluation of young patients with a variety of developmental issues, we performed clinical genomic studies and analyzed the genetic material of more than 60,000 individuals. Most of the samples were analyzed at Baylor Genetics laboratories,” said lead author Dr. Pengfei Liu”



gcosgrove3 · February 25, 2017 at 9:43 pm

“How the Thalamus Helps Us to See”

Gabriella Cosgrove

The thalamus is the gate of the cell; it filters what enters and which path input should proceed for processing, so that is why I found this article surprising. The thalamus may be more than we thought. The fact that researchers found that the thalamus plays a strong role in how we process our visual information makes me wonder if maybe this plays a role in how we interpret information as people, and possibly provides a way to determine how we all perceive visual information differently. This recent discovery needs to be further explored to understand the details, but I am happy scientists were able to come to this finding because it could provide valuable information about how humans process their surroundings and attach emotion and opinion to their situations. I look forward to reading what gets discovered next!

gcosgrove3 · February 25, 2017 at 9:44 pm

Playing favorites: Brain cells prefer one parent’s gene over the other’s

Gabriella Cosgrove

I am taking Human Genetics this quarter, so this article appealed to me as it confirmed and expanded my knowledge in the genetic field. It further confirmed my amazement of the human genome, and the complexity of gene expression. In Human Genetics, we learned certain genes could be turned on different times during a human’s lifetime and that often times there are environmental triggers that set this off. This article made me wonder if possibly parent gene activation preference could also play a role in activating genes throughout a lifetime. It also makes me think about whether when we pick a mate, we pick someone whose genes will activate certain desirable qualities in our genes, producing evolutionary “fit” offspring. Of course this would cause a lot of controversy for couples that produce offspring with disorders; however, it is an interesting idea to imagine. This article, just like many of the others, reminds me the more we know, the more we realize we do not know, especially in the world of science.

gcosgrove3 · March 4, 2017 at 11:15 pm

“Genetic genealogy is changing family history, CeCe Moore tells RootsTech crowd”

Gabriella Cosgrove

Genetic genealogy is revolutionizing our individual history. It is providing us an entire pool of information that allows us to trace back our heritage, which brings families together. This article reminded me of my human genetics class. Right now we are learning about mutations and how to track them via pedigree analysis. By learning more about our family history, we can track mutations, diseases, and cancers earlier, which can help us take quicker preventative measures. Before I have a family, I would love to figure out more about my own family history, in hope to foresee any possible problems.

gcosgrove3 · March 4, 2017 at 11:15 pm

“Scientists find a striking number of genetic changes can occur early in human development”

Gabriella Cosgrove

After reading this article, it made me realize how important fetal development is. Learning that there are many changes and mutations that can occur during fertilization, made me realize how important it is to receive enough nutrients and stay healthy during pregnancy to prevent genetic problems/modifications. It makes me also wonder, when women do not know they are pregnant and do drugs/alcohol, how that affects the genetic makeup of their children and if it can cause an inheritable mutation. I really enjoyed this article and it makes me excited for future discoveries.

Courtneycrane · March 9, 2017 at 8:53 am

I thought the article “Playing favorites: Brain cells prefer one parent’s gene” was very interesting because it seems like new research that hasn’t been focused on before. Because I’ve taken anatomy and genetics classes previously, I understand the process of meiosis and crossing over of genes during fertilization. However, I’ve never thought about how each copy of chromosome from each parent would have a measurably significant affect on the offspring. I feel that although this research on transgenic mice is extraordinary, more studies are necessary to determine how each parent’s specific genes could change their offsprings’ opinion. Epigenetics must play a large roll in what children think of their parents, which is an important factor to consider in this realm of study.

Courtneycrane · March 9, 2017 at 9:10 am

In regards to the research article, “Study of ancient skulls suggest there may have been multiple migrations into the Americas”, I believe this is truly fascinating subject. I think it’s truly remarkable and unbelievable that scientists can create 3D images to study skulls from thousands of years ago! The research from these skulls found can really make a difference in determining what life was like back then. It must be very difficult to find out who were the first groups of people that came to North America. However, research in skulls found can then determine the first migrants of North America. Although this is not really my field of interest, I think it is crucial that we study these bones from the past, to help us in the world today.

Nicole Sacco · May 8, 2017 at 6:20 pm

I thought that the article, “Playing Favorites: Brain Cells Prefer One Parent’s Gene Over the Other’s,” was very informative and interesting. After taking multiple biology courses in high school, I was left with the impression that DNA is inherited from both parents equally, without preference. Scientists originally thought that one copy was inherited from each parent equally as likely. However, this article enlightened me in that it is not uncommon for brain cells to preferentially activate one parent’s copy as opposed to the other. This is such a great discovery because neuroscientists said that they may be able to better understand brain disorders. I hope that this new discovery will aid in unearthing the root of brain disorders and any treatment to benefit the public and future generations. This article showed me how amazing the human brain is since some genes are able to play favorites by varying which copy they express.

Nicole Sacco · June 4, 2017 at 9:53 am

The article “Neanderthal DNA Contributes to Human Gene Expression” makes a very interesting discovery that Neanderthal DNA sequences still have influence in modern humans. They have influences when it comes to how genes are turned on or off. I believe that it is quite incredible that the Neanderthals still have impacts on gene expression today even though the last one died 40,000 years ago.

Sky Yramategui · November 1, 2017 at 5:20 pm

I read the article that focused on the fact that offspring prefers one parent gene to another’s – I thought this was very interesting because it supports the cliche labeling of “daddy’s girl” or “momma’s boy”. I personally gravitate more towards my dad because I find more similarities in his personality than my mom’s. I thought that it was really interesting how this study actually proved that there can be a preference for one parent trait over another.

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