Archive for the ‘Networks’ Category
James Fowler, a professor at UC-San Diego, is engaged in highly innovative and important research at the crossroads of political science and biology. His recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “Correlated Genotypes in Friendship Networks“, represents an important new study in an emerging research field that is exploring the genetic and biological foundations for our political and social behavior.
In this paper, James and his colleagues Jaime Settle and Nicholas Christakis demonstrate that there is what they call “genotypic clustering in social networks“, by statistically examining the association between markers for six different genes and the reported friendship networks from respondents in data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and the Framingham Heart Study Social Network. They show that one of these genes (DRD2) is positively associated with in friendship networks, meaning that those who have this gene are more likely to be friends with others who have this gene, controlling for demographic similarities and population stratification; another gene, CYP2A6 has a negative association in friendship networks.
That the brain is a powerful and complex organ is no mystery. But what researchers have begun to discover is that there are select areas of the brain that are so dense in their activity and interconnections that researchers have dubbed them the “rich clubs” of the brain. There are regions of the brain in which connectivity is extraordinarily dense — that’s been known for some time. What the present study set out to do was visualize how these dense regions might be connected to one another, possibly forming an elite network between these distinct and powerful regions of the brain.
They found exactly that: Twelve discrete hubs in the brain were interconnected with one another across hemispheres, forming what the researchers call a “rich club,” distinct from the regular or “lower” network of the brain.