From genes to behavior: Placing cognitive models in the context of biological pathways

Ignacio Saez, Eric Set, Ming Hsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Connecting neural mechanisms of behavior to their underlying molecular and genetic substrates has important scientific and clinical implications. However, despite rapid growth in our knowledge of the functions and computational properties of neural circuitry underlying behavior in a number of important domains, there has been much less progress in extending this understanding to their molecular and genetic substrates, even in an age marked by exploding availability of genomic data. Here we describe recent advances in analytical strategies that aim to overcome two important challenges in dealing with the complex relationship between genes and behavior: (i) reducing distal behavioral phenotype to a set of molecular, physiological, and neural processes that render them closer to the actions of genetic forces, and (ii) striking a balance between the competing demands of discovery and interpretability when dealing with genomic data containing up to millions of markers. Our proposed approach involves linking, on one hand, models of neural computations and circuits hypothesized to underlie behavior, and on the other hand, the set of the genes carrying out biochemical processes related to the functioning of these neural systems. In particular, we focus on the specific example of value-based decision-making, and discuss how such a combination allows researchers to leverage existing biological knowledge at both neural and genetic levels to advance our understanding of the neurogenetic mechanisms underlying behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number336
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Issue numberOCT
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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