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Genetic and environmental contributions to regional cortical surface area in humans: A magnetic resonance imaging twin study

  • Author(s): Eyler, LT
  • Prom-Wormley, E
  • Panizzon, MS
  • Kaup, AR
  • Fennema-Notestine, C
  • Neale, MC
  • Jernigan, TL
  • Fischl, B
  • Franz, CE
  • Lyons, MJ
  • Grant, M
  • Stevens, A
  • Pacheco, J
  • Perry, ME
  • Schmitt, JE
  • Seidman, LJ
  • Thermenos, HW
  • Tsuang, MT
  • Chen, CH
  • Thompson, WK
  • Jak, A
  • Dale, AM
  • Kremen, WS
  • et al.
Abstract

Cortical surface area measures appear to be functionally relevant and distinct in etiology, development, and behavioral correlates compared with other size characteristics, such as cortical thickness. Little is known about genetic and environmental influences on individual differences in regional surface area in humans. Using a large sample of adult twins, we determined relative contributions of genes and environment on variations in regional cortical surface area as measured by magnetic resonance imaging before and after adjustment for genetic and environmental influences shared with total cortical surface area. We found high heritability for total surface area and, before adjustment, moderate heritability for regional surface areas. Compared with other lobes, heritability was higher for frontal lobe and lower for medial temporal lobe. After adjustment for total surface area, regionally specific genetic influences were substantially reduced, although still significant in most regions. Unlike other lobes, left frontal heritability remained high after adjustment. Thus, global and regionally specific genetic factors both influence cortical surface areas. These findings are broadly consistent with results from animal studies regarding the evolution and development of cortical patterning and may guide future research into specific environmental and genetic determinants of variation among humans in the surface area of particular regions. Published by Oxford University Press 2011.2011 © Published by Oxford University Press 2011.

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