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Neuroimage. 2010 Aug 15;52(2):455-69. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.04.236. Epub 2010 Apr 27.

Genetic influences on brain asymmetry: a DTI study of 374 twins and siblings.

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  • 1Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, Department of Neurology, UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

Abstract

Brain asymmetry, or the structural and functional specialization of each brain hemisphere, has fascinated neuroscientists for over a century. Even so, genetic and environmental factors that influence brain asymmetry are largely unknown. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) now allows asymmetry to be studied at a microscopic scale by examining differences in fiber characteristics across hemispheres rather than differences in structure shapes and volumes. Here we analyzed 4Tesla DTI scans from 374 healthy adults, including 60 monozygotic twin pairs, 45 same-sex dizygotic pairs, and 164 mixed-sex DZ twins and their siblings; mean age: 24.4years+/-1.9 SD). All DTI scans were nonlinearly aligned to a geometrically-symmetric, population-based image template. We computed voxel-wise maps of significant asymmetries (left/right differences) for common diffusion measures that reflect fiber integrity (fractional and geodesic anisotropy; FA, GA and mean diffusivity, MD). In quantitative genetic models computed from all same-sex twin pairs (N=210 subjects), genetic factors accounted for 33% of the variance in asymmetry for the inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, 37% for the anterior thalamic radiation, and 20% for the forceps major and uncinate fasciculus (all L>R). Shared environmental factors accounted for around 15% of the variance in asymmetry for the cortico-spinal tract (R>L) and about 10% for the forceps minor (L>R). Sex differences in asymmetry (men>women) were significant, and were greatest in regions with prominent FA asymmetries. These maps identify heritable DTI-derived features, and may empower genome-wide searches for genetic polymorphisms that influence brain asymmetry.

Copyright (c) 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

PMID:
20430102
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3086641
Free PMC Article

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