CategoryPaul Bourke Lectures
Humans are characterised by a remarkable ability for flexible thought which enables us to interact in a complex social world. By selecting appropriate thoughts and actions and inhibiting those that are inappropriate, we are able to guide behaviour on a moment to moment basis. The consequences of disruption to these “executive” abilities can be dramatic, as exemplified by a wide range of both neurologic and neuropsychiatric disorders, where goal-directed behaviour is affected.
In evolutionary terms the development of such executive capacities has in large part paralleled the development of the frontal lobe of the human brain. It is perhaps unsurprising that individual differences in executive capacity are strongly genetic in origin. Recent advances arising from the human genome project have given scientists unprecedented ability to identify genes for human traits, including cognitive ability. In this lecture A/Professor Bellgrove will outline recent work from his laboratory showing that gene variants involved in dopamine and noradrenaline signalling are associated with individual differences in executive ability. He will dicuss the implications of these findings for the biology and drug treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).