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Behav Genet. 2001 Nov;31(6):637-51.

Longitudinal genetic analysis of EEG coherence in young twins.

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  • 1Department of Biological Psychology, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. gcm.van.baal@psy.vu.nl


During middle childhood, continuous changes occur in electroencephalogram (EEG) coherence, an index of cortico-cortical connectivity of the brain. In the gradual development of EEG coher ence, occasional "growth spurts" are observed which coincide with periods of discontinuous development in cognition. Discontinuous development may reflect changes in the genetic architecture of a trait over time, for instance, by the emergence of new genetic factors. To examine stability and change in genetic and environmental influences on EEG coherence from ages 5 to 7 years, intrahemispheric EEG coherences from 14 connections were collected twice in 209 twin pairs. Overall, heritabilities (h2) were moderate to high for all EEG coherences at both ages (average: 58%). For occipito-cortical connections in the right hemisphere, h2 increased with age due to a decrease in environmental variance. For prefronto-cortical connections in the left hemisphere, h2 decreased with age due to a decrease in genetic variance. New genetic factors at age 7 were found for prefronto-parietal coherence, and centro-occipital and parieto-occipital EEG coherences in both hemispheres and, in the left hemisphere, for prefronto-frontal EEG coherences. Mean genetic correlation for these cortico-cortical connections over time was 0.72, indicating that at least part of the genetic influences is age-specific. We argue that this is convincing evidence for the existence of stage-wise brain maturation from years 5 to 7, and that growth spurts in EEG coherence may be part of the biological basis for discontinuous cognitive development at that age range.

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