A new study appeared in the Scientific Research Publishing indicated that the absence of STX1A gene may be one of the major factors in determining music skills in people.
In the study, scientists have analyzed three networks of interactions between genes in the critical region of the Williams Syndrome (WS)
and those evidenced in literature as involved in musical competencies.
Scientists found that the interaction involving STX1A and SLC6A4 (the serotonin or 5-HT transporter gene) was based on the influence by STX1A deletion on the serotonin levels through a decline in SLC6A4 activity.
So, the lack of STX1A could cause changes in 5HT levels justifying a different development of specific cognitive abilities involving listening, processing and producing music.
Therefore, the role of serotonin not only in the development of basic cognitive skills but also in musical abilities cannot be excluded.
General Hypothesis of the Study
Williams syndrome (WS) is a rare neurodevelopmental disorder caused by an heterozygous contiguous gene deletion on 7q11.23 (chromosome 7).
Major clinical features of the disorder include a low intelligence quotient (IQ) and deficit in some cognitive domains. However, individuals with WS have comparatively strong abilities in social drive, face processing, language, and musical skills.
Taking these key features into account, the researchers hypothesized that genes deleted in the disorder act in normal conditions, in healthy people, as 'suppressors of music ability'.
This hypothesis means that musical behavior is expressed naturally and at a superior level in people where these genes are inactive.
The Study Carries Out in Three Steps
To clarify this hypothesis, the scientists conducted the study to recognize the interaction between genes associated with musical ability as per literature data and genes mapped in the WS critical region.
The study has been carried out in three steps. In the first part, the scientists examined the key affairs of genes mapped within the WS critical region to analyze their possible roles in the development of musical competence. In this step, they reviewed of the most recent literature using important keywords including 'William syndrome.'
In the second step, an in-depth search of data to identify other genes, outside the WS critical region, which have been suggested as involved in the development of musical ability was carried out.
In the last step, the scientists conducted a computerized analysis to highlight the presence of functional correlation between genes mapped in the critical region for the WS and those evidenced in literature as involved in musical competencies.
They used the Ingenuity Pathways Analysis (IPA) software to detect the functional networks connecting the genes identified in the first and second step.
The analysis helped them identify three networks of interaction. The first network of interaction includes AVPR1A, NCF1, UNC5C and LAT2, the second involves STX1A and SLC6A4 and only WS related genes in the last. References
Open Journal of Genetics, 2015, 5, 12-26; Published Online March 2015 in SciRes; http://www.scirp.org/journal/ojgen