Brown bag talk by Prof Richard Ebstein on “D38 and CD157 (ADP ribosyl-cyclases) Gene Expression Positively Associated with Creative Thinking in Humans”

Speaker: Prof Richard Ebstein 

Date: Friday 8 September at 12:30pm

Venue: AS4/02-08 (Psychology Department Meeting Room) 

Title: D38 and CD157 (ADP ribosyl-cyclases) Gene Expression Positively Associated with Creative Thinking in Humans

Abstract: Recently the role of two ADP ribosyl-cyclases (CD38 and CD157) have been revealed to be crucial to the release of oxytocin (OT) in the rodent brain thereby modulating animal social cognition. In addition, several investigations have shown that CD38 and CD157 are also associated with social cognition in humans. An intriguing association between  OT and creative thinking (CT) has likewise been demonstrated using both intranasal administration and genetic association studies (SNPs) with the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene. In the current study, we took a novel approach to examining the role of CD38 and CD157 genes in CT by examining expression of these genes in saliva, a possible proxy for brain expression. We measured CT with two measures: (1) the Alternatives Uses Test (AUT) and (2) the Insight Problem Task (IPST). Additionally. We also used the NEO-Personality Inventory-3 (NEO-PI-3)   to assess the personality dimension of Openness to Experience, often correlated with CT.  The Raven’s Standard Progressive Matrices (RSPM) was employed to control for IQ. Both NEO Openness and RSPM have been associated with CT. Subjects were 131 Han Chinese undergraduate students from the National University of Singapore (64 females, 67 males). Linear regression (STATA with robust SE) was used to measure association between the levels of expression of salivary CD38 and CD157/Bst1 (Taqman: Log-transformed Cq values and normalized to B2M) and the standardized total creativity score (AUT and IPST). For the entire group (N=131), and full model, CD38 (p<0.05), NEO-PI-3 scores and RSPM were significantly and positively associated with CT.  However, for females all independent variables including CD38 (p<0.01), CD157 (p<0.01), the interaction CD38xCD157 (p<0.01), NEO-PI-3 (p<0.01) and RSPM (p<0.01) were significant. These results indicate that higher levels of CD38, CD157 levels of expression are associated with CT in women. The AUT was mainly driving the association of CD38 and CD157 gene expression with CT. Similarly, as expected Openness and RSPM were positively associated with CT. Openness and IQ have previously been shown to correlate with CT. In conclusion, the current study showed that CD38 and CD157 levels of expression were correlated with CT especially for females and explain 10% of the variance).   In conclusion, these results are consistent with the recent literature, viz. CD38 and CD157 trigger the release of brain OT, and this nonapeptide has been positively associated with creativity in several previous studies.

Biography: Richard Ebstein’s research revolves around human behavior genetics, with the overarching goal of providing molecular insights into the role of genes as a partial contributor to all facets of human behavior. His work is highly interdisciplinary and combines personality, social, cognitive, and neuropsychology with techniques of molecular genetics. Major research areas include neuroeconomics, the genetics of social behavior and normal personality, autism, ADHD, eating disorders, and substance abuse.

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