As described, the anterior cingulate cortex has been implicated in a number of psychiatric disorders. Interestingly, all of these disorders show familial patterns of inheritance, increased risk among first degree relatives of affected patients, and increased concordance in identical vs fraternal twins. The heritability (see Glossary) has been estimated for schizophrenia (0.6), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (0.79), obsessive-compulsive disorder (0.68), and major depression disorder (0.6). Estimates of heritability have been extended to specific cognitive functions in normal populations as well. Tasks that activate the anterior cingulate cortex, such as spatial working memory, divided attention, and attentional set shifting, have been examined in identical and fraternal twin populations and have high heritabilities. These findings suggest that genetic factors play a role in behaviors associated with anterior cingulate abnormalities and normal anterior cingulate function. These genes may be important for the establishment of proper connectivity during pre- and postnatal development and/or for proper physiological homeostasis under stressful or injurious conditions. Of the approximately 35,000 genes (see Glossary) in the human genome, it remains a challenge to identify the genes of critical importance.
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