Gene Variant Helps Explain Differences in IQ Outcome After TBI
It has long been known that people with superior or above average intelligence have lots of extra neurons (something called neuronal reserve) and they tend to recover from a TBI with better cognitive function than people of average intelligence. Recently Aron Barbey, Ph.D, a researcher at the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois, did a study on how a group of people with average intelligence did on IQ tests following recovery from a TBI.
What Dr. Barbey found is that outcome is associated with genetic variants of a gene that produces neurotrophic growth factor in the brain. Neurotrophic growth factor is responsible for the growth of new neurons to replace neurons destroyed by TBI. Dr. Barbey’s research showed that people who have the Met/Met or Met/Val variants recover better than people with the Val/Val variant; and that TBI survivors with the Val/Val variant end up scoring an average of 8 points lower on IQ testing. In light of this new information brain injury rehab specialists may seek to create new interventions to help people with the Val/Val subtype of the gene in question.
If you have a TBI and you are involved in or contemplating being involved in cognitive therapy, you might wish to get tested to see which gene variant you have.