Speed with which brain performs information processing influences overall cognition and is dependent on the white matter fibers. To understand genetic influences on processing speed and white matter FA, we assessed processing speed and diffusion imaging fractional anisotropy (FA) in related individuals from two populations. Discovery analyses were performed in 146 individuals from large Old Order Amish (OOA) families and findings were replicated in 485 twins and siblings of the Human Connectome Project (HCP). The heritability of processing speed was h(2)=43% and 49% (both p<0.005), while the heritability of whole brain FA was h(2)=87% and 88% (both p<0.001), in the OOA and HCP, respectively. Whole brain FA was significantly correlated with processing speed in the two cohorts. Quantitative genetic analysis demonstrated a significant degree to which common genes influenced joint variation in FA and brain processing speed. These estimates suggested common sets of genes influencing variation in both phenotypes, consistent with the idea that common genetic variations contributing to white matter may also support their associated cognitive behavior.
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