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Science. 2012 Mar 30;335(6076):1634-6. doi: 10.1126/science.1215330.

Hierarchical genetic organization of human cortical surface area.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.


Surface area of the cerebral cortex is a highly heritable trait, yet little is known about genetic influences on regional cortical differentiation in humans. Using a data-driven, fuzzy clustering technique with magnetic resonance imaging data from 406 twins, we parceled cortical surface area into genetic subdivisions, creating a human brain atlas based solely on genetically informative data. Boundaries of the genetic divisions corresponded largely to meaningful structural and functional regions; however, the divisions represented previously undescribed phenotypes different from conventional (non-genetically based) parcellation systems. The genetic organization of cortical area was hierarchical, modular, and predominantly bilaterally symmetric across hemispheres. We also found that the results were consistent with human-specific regions being subdivisions of previously described, genetically based lobar regionalization patterns.

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