Heritability and Genetic Influence of Brain Structures in Older Individuals using Older Australian Twins Data

image - Brain And Genetics
Project Main Description: 

In order to better understand the pathways associated with normal and pathological brain ageing, we are studying the genetic contributions to cortical and sub-cortical brain structures. Prior research suggests brain structures have moderate to strong heritability.However, few studies have examined the heritability of the shape of subcortical structures.  Nor have the genetic correlations between bilateral hemispheric structures been considered. Here we plan to do comprehensive heritability and genetic correlation analysis of cortical and sub-cortical structures of human brain, utilising neuroimaging data from the MAS and the OATS. The study of twins offers an excellent strategy to examine the relative contributions of genetic and environmental influences on brain structures.

Our study demonstrates a complex but patterned genetic architecture of the older human brain.  An understanding of this pattern will assist in the refinement of phenotypes for the discovery of the genetic blueprint of the human brain.


To examine the relationship of serum levels of a divergent transforming growth factor – beta (TGF-β) superfamily cytokine, Macrophage Inhibitory Cytokine – 1 (MIC-1/GDF15), with human brain grey matter (GM) volumes, in a community-dwelling sample aged 70-90 years over two years.


Heritability of cortical thickness for the left and hemispheres, estimated using the AE model on each and every vertex (number of vertices = 163842/hemisphere) of the cortical surface with sex, age and scanner effects removed.  The colour bar shows the heritability (h2)  scale.  See Downloads for video clip.

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