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Eur J Neurosci. 2016 Aug;44(3):1963-71. doi: 10.1111/ejn.13300. Epub 2016 Jul 4.

Evidence for genetic regulation of the human parieto-occipital 10-Hz rhythmic activity.

Author information

Molecular Neurology Research Program, Research Programs Unit, University of Helsinki, PO Box 63, FI-00014, Helsinki, Finland.
Folkhälsan Institute of Genetics, Biomedicum Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
Department of Neuroscience and Biomedical Engineering, Aalto University School of Science, Espoo, Finland.
Aalto Neuroimaging, MEG Core, Aalto University, Espoo, Finland.
Clinical Neurosciences, Neurology, University of Helsinki and Department of Neurology, Helsinki University Hospital, Helsinki, Finland.
City of Helsinki Health Centre, Helsinki, Finland.
Science for Life Laboratory, Karolinska Institutet, Solna, Sweden.


Several functional and morphological brain measures are partly under genetic control. The identification of direct links between neuroimaging signals and corresponding genetic factors can reveal cellular-level mechanisms behind the measured macroscopic signals and contribute to the use of imaging signals as probes of genetic function. To uncover possible genetic determinants of the most prominent brain signal oscillation, the parieto-occipital 10-Hz alpha rhythm, we measured spontaneous brain activity with magnetoencephalography in 210 healthy siblings while the subjects were resting, with eyes closed and open. The reactivity of the alpha rhythm was quantified from the difference spectra between the two conditions. We focused on three measures: peak frequency, peak amplitude and the width of the main spectral peak. In accordance with earlier electroencephalography studies, spectral peak amplitude was highly heritable (h(2)  > 0.75). Variance component-based analysis of 28 000 single-nucleotide polymorphism markers revealed linkage for both the width and the amplitude of the spectral peak. The strongest linkage was detected for the width of the spectral peak over the left parieto-occipital cortex on chromosome 10 (LOD = 2.814, nominal P < 0.03). This genomic region contains several functionally plausible genes, including GRID1 and ATAD1 that regulate glutamate receptor channels mediating synaptic transmission, NRG3 with functions in brain development and HRT7 involved in the serotonergic system and circadian rhythm. Our data suggest that the alpha oscillation is in part genetically regulated, and that it may be possible to identify its regulators by genetic analyses on a realistically modest number of samples.


alpha rhythm; heritability; linkage study; magnetoencephalography

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