It is a venerable tradition that each faculty of the Ruhr University selects one of its students for the science award of the year. This usually takes place in the Auditorium Maximum as part of a large year’s end celebration. On November 29, 2023, this award was given to Robert Willma.
On Friday, December 15, 2023, Doro successfully defended her PhD thesis entitled "The neurogenetic basis of human intelligence - how network connectivity mediates the effect of polygenic scores on intelligence". Yes, it’s a long title. But it’s also a very complex topic that requires care, hard work and (of course) intelligence.
It is said that pirates made their victims walk the plank over the side of their ship. Biopsychologists from Bochum, Amsterdam, Hamburg, and Wellington made the same for science. Well, sort of. The aim was to study the neural fundaments of fear.
Some reports argued that birth complications can increase the occurrence of left handedness and thereby the risk for mental disorders. Is that true? Scientists from Bochum, Hamburg, and Göttingen joined forces and tested 598 healthy participants in depth for functional asymmetries, birth events, and clinical conditions.
Dolphins are famous for their remarkable cognitive abilities. So, we would expect them to have a large prefrontal cortex (PFC). But there seems to be none! At least at the expected place in the frontal cortex. How is that possible? Now biopsychologists and clinical scientists from Bochum as well as veterinary scientists from the university of Padua could solve the mystery.
According to a prominent theory, a tight interaction between some frontal and parietal areas (as shown in the picture below) could constitute the neural fundaments of intelligence. Scientists from Bochum, Dortmund, Minneapolis, Mannheim, Edinburgh, and Minneapolis now tested a core assumption of this theory.
Intelligence is highly heritable. But you need to know the identity of thousands of alleles to modestly predict intelligence. Polygenic scores (PGS), which combine these effects into one genetic summary measure, are therefore used to investigate polygenic effects in intelligence research. But how do genes make brains smart?
Research should move into the field, into real life. But this creates a lot of problems. For example, studies related to stress have to obtain saliva samples. But swift freezing of these samples is not always possible, and samples must be returned to the laboratory for further processing.