Twin studies of brain structure and cognition in schizophrenia

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2020 Feb;109:103-113. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2019.12.021. Epub 2019 Dec 13.


Twin studies in schizophrenia have been crucial in establishing estimates for the heritability and thus providing evidence for a genetic component in this disorder. Recent years have seen the application of the twin study paradigm to both putative intermediate phenotypes and biomarkers of disease as well as a diversification of its use in schizophrenia research. This review addressed studies of brain structure (T1 morphometry) and cognition in schizophrenia using twin study designs. We review major findings such as the overlap of genetic variance between schizophrenia and cognition as a model for the emergence of psychopathology. The use of novel hybrid models integrating molecular genetic risk markers, as well as the use of twin studies in epigenetics might prove to significantly enhance schizophrenia research in the post-GWAS era.

Keywords: Cognition; Executive function; Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); Morphometry; Schizophrenia; Twin studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / etiology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / physiopathology
  • Executive Function* / physiology
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Humans
  • Schizophrenia* / complications
  • Schizophrenia* / genetics
  • Schizophrenia* / pathology
  • Schizophrenia* / physiopathology
  • Twin Studies as Topic*