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Exp Brain Res. 2019 Oct;237(10):2729-2734. doi: 10.1007/s00221-019-05627-7. Epub 2019 Aug 20.

Associations between genetic variations and global motion perception.

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Institute of Cognitive Neurosciences, Free University of Tbilisi, 240 David Aghmashenebeli Allay, 0159, Tbilisi, Georgia.
Laboratory of Vision Physiology, Ivane Beritashvili Center of Experimental Biomedicine, Tbilisi, Georgia.
Genome Center, National Center for Disease Control and Public Health, Tbilisi, Georgia.
Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.
Laboratory of Psychophysics, Brain Mind Institute, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), Lausanne, Switzerland.


The cholinergic system is known to strongly modulate perceptual and cognitive processes, and the alpha7 subunit of the cholinergic nicotinic receptor (CHRNA7) is broadly expressed within the visual system. Here, we assessed whether genetic variations of CHRNA7 affect coherent motion perception. Motion perception has been shown to decline with age, and it has previously been suggested that the effects of genetic variations are magnified by age. Therefore, we tested both older (n = 62) and younger adults (n = 63). We found that motion coherence thresholds were significantly higher for older compared to younger adults, which is in accordance with previous studies. Interestingly, there was a strong relationship between variants of the SNP rs2337980 of the CHRNA7 and motion direction discrimination. In particular, participants carrying the TC genotype had considerably lower motion coherence thresholds than CC carriers. The effect of genotype did not interact with age. Our results show that genetic variations are associated with perceptual performance, but are unlikely to explain age-related changes.


Aging; CHRNA7; Cholinergic system; Coherent motion; Genetic variations


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