Source: Vanderbilt University
The first large-scale genomic study of musicality, published on today’s front page Human behavior of nature — He identified 69 genetic variants associated with rhythm synchronization, that is, the ability to move in sync with the beat of music.
An international team of scientists, including the Vanderbilt Genetics Institute and 23andMe, showed that the human ability to move in sync with a musical beat (called rhythm synchronization) is partially encoded in the human genome.
Many of the genes associated with rhythm synchronization are involved in central nervous system function, including genes expressed very early in brain development and in areas underlying auditory and motor skills, according to co-senior author Reyna Gordon, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery and co-director of the Vanderbilt Music Cognition Lab.
“Rhythm is not just influenced by a single gene, it’s influenced by many hundreds of genes,” Gordon said. “Playing, clapping and dancing in sync with the beat of the music is at the core of our human musicality.”
The study also found that rhythm synchronization shares some of its genetic architecture with other traits, including biological rhythms such as walking, breathing and circadian patterns.
“This is a new basis for understanding the biology underlying how musicality relates to other health traits,” said co-lead author Lea Davis., Associate Professor of Medicine”.
23andMe’s large research data set provided study data from more than 600,000 customers who consented to participate in research, allowing researchers to identify genetic alleles that vary in association with participants’ rhythm synchronization ability .
“The large number of consenting study participants provided a unique opportunity for our group to capture even small genetic signals,” said David Hinds, PhD, researcher and statistical geneticist at 23andMe.
“These findings represent a leap forward for scientific understanding of the links between genetics and musicality.”
First author Maria Niarchou, PhD, assistant research professor in the Department of Medicine, said the study’s findings “made new connections between the genetic and neural architecture of musical rhythm, thereby improving our understanding of how our genomes tune our brains to the beat of the music.”
Funding: The work was supported in part by NIH Director’s New Innovator Award #DP2HD098859.
About this genetic research news
Author: Craig Boerner
Source: Vanderbilt University
Contact: Craig Boerner – Vanderbilt University
Image: The image is in the public domain
Original Research: Open access
“Genome-wide association study of musical rhythm synchronization demonstrates high polygenicity” by Reyna Gordon et al. Human behavior of nature
Genome-wide association study of musical rhythm synchronization demonstrates high polygenicity
Moving in sync with the beat is a fundamental component of musicality. Here we performed a genome-wide association study to identify common genetic variants associated with rhythm synchronization in 606,825 individuals.
Rhythm synchronization showed a highly polygenic architecture, with 69 loci reaching genome-wide significance (p< 5 × 10-8) and heritability based on single nucleotide polymorphism (on the liability scale) of 13% to 16%.
Heritability was enriched for genes expressed in brain tissues and for specific gene regulatory elements in the fetal and adult brain, underscoring the role of genes expressed by the central nervous system linked to the genetic basis of the trait.
We performed validations of the self-report phenotype (using separate experiments) and the genome-wide association study (polygenic scores for rhythm synchronization were associated with patients algorithmically classified as musicians in the medical records of ‘a separate biobank).
Genetic correlations with respiratory function, motor function, processing speed, and chronotype suggest a shared genetic architecture with rhythm synchronization and provide avenues for further phenotypic and genetic explorations.