The contribution of genes to cortical thickness and volume

Neuroreport. 2011 Feb 16;22(3):101-5. doi: 10.1097/WNR.0b013e3283424c84.


We analyzed brain MRI data from 372 young adult twins to identify cortical regions in which gray matter thickness and volume are influenced by genetics. This was achieved using an A/C/E structural equation model that divides the variance of these traits, at each point on the cortex, into additive genetic (A), shared (C), and unique environmental (E) components. A strong genetic influence was found in frontal and parietal regions. In addition, we correlated cortical thickness with full-scale intelligence quotient for comparison with the A/C/E maps, and several regions where cortical structure was correlated with intelligence quotient are under genetic control. These cortical measures may be useful phenotypes to narrow the search for quantitative trait loci influencing brain structure.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Cerebral Cortex / embryology
  • Cerebral Cortex / growth & development*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Quantitative Trait Loci / genetics*
  • Reaction Time / genetics
  • Young Adult