Imaging genetics has been focused so far in imaging the phenotype. Most of the research done has been related to human behavior. The phenotype constitutes the biological basis of the clinical manifestation of the specific gene. For example, we could image brain circuitry by using MRI in order to understand the biological basis of schizophrenia and its relation to the genotype. After the circuit has been understood, we can perform statistical analysis between these findings and the clinical manifestations. We have to understand that phenotype is also related to non-genetic factors such as: diet, age, smoking habits, sleep, medications, etc. We have to include those as covariates when we perform”the statistical analysis.
In my opinion imaging genetics might include not only phenotype imaging but also genetic imaging itself such as with MRI Spectroscopy. Other areas besides behavior will most likely be explored in the future
This is a good article related to this topic:
Bigos KL, Weinberg DR. Imaging Genetics- days of future and””past. NeuroImage. 2010; 53: 804-809.
Adolfo Cotter, MD