Genes control brain functions

London: How well your brain functions is largely based on your family`s genetic makeup, says a study.

An international team, led by University of Melbourne, has found that the efficacy of each person`s brain network is based on their genetic makeup, the `Journal of Neuroscience` reported in its latest edition.

Lead author Dr Alex Fornito said the findings have important implications for understanding why some people are better able to perform certain tasks than others and genetic basis of mental illnesses and some neurological diseases.

He said how the brain`s network is organised has been a mystery to scientists for years. "The brain is an extraordinarily complex network of billions of nerve cells interconnected by trillions of fibres.

"The brain tries to maximise its bang-for-buck by striking a balance between making more connections to promote efficient communication and minimising the `cost` or amount of wiring required to make these connections.

"Our findings indicate that this balance, called `cost-efficiency`, has a strong genetic basis," he said.

According to researchers, the study could help uncover which specific genes are important in explaining differences in cognitive abilities, risk for mental illness and diseases such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer`s, leading to gene-based therapies for these disorders.

"Although genes play a major role in brain function, the environment and other factors contribute to when things go wrong in cases of mental illness and other brain disorders," he said.