Dorret I. Boomsma and Hilleke E. Hulshoff Pol contributed equally to this work.
Heritability of volumetric brain changes and height in children entering puberty
Article first published online: 3 DEC 2011
Copyright © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Human Brain Mapping
Volume 34, Issue 3, pages 713–725, March 2013
How to Cite
van Soelen, I. L.C., Brouwer, R. M., van Baal, G. C. M., Schnack, H. G., Peper, J. S., Chen, L., Kahn, R. S., Boomsma, D. I. and Pol, H. E. H. (2013), Heritability of volumetric brain changes and height in children entering puberty. Hum. Brain Mapp., 34: 713–725. doi: 10.1002/hbm.21468
- Issue published online: 5 FEB 2013
- Article first published online: 3 DEC 2011
- Manuscript Accepted: 24 AUG 2011
- Manuscript Revised: 8 AUG 2011
- Manuscript Received: 11 FEB 2011
- The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. Grant Numbers: NWO 51.02.060, 668.772, NWO-MagW 480-04-004, NWO/SPI 56-464-14192
- European Research Council. Grant Number: ERC-230374
- High Potential Grant Utrecht University
- Neuroscience Campus Amsterdam (NCA)
- human brain;
- longitudinal twin study;
The human brain undergoes structural changes in children entering puberty, while simultaneously children increase in height. It is not known if brain changes are under genetic control, and whether they are related to genetic factors influencing the amount of overall increase in height. Twins underwent magnetic resonance imaging brain scans at age 9 (N = 190) and 12 (N = 125). High heritability estimates were found at both ages for height and brain volumes (49–96%), and high genetic correlation between ages were observed (rg > 0.89). With increasing age, whole brain (+1.1%), cerebellum (+4.2%), cerebral white matter (+5.1%), and lateral ventricle (+9.4%) volumes increased, and third ventricle (−4.0%) and cerebral gray matter (−1.6%) volumes decreased. Children increased on average 13.8 cm in height (9.9%). Genetic influences on individual difference in volumetric brain and height changes were estimated, both within and across traits. The same genetic factors influenced both cerebral (20% heritable) and cerebellar volumetric changes (45%). Thus, the extent to which changes in cerebral and cerebellar volumes are heritable in children entering puberty are due to the same genes that influence change in both structures. The increase in height was heritable (73%), and not associated with cerebral volumetric change, but positively associated with cerebellar volume change (rp = 0.24). This association was explained by a genetic correlation (rg = 0.48) between height and cerebellar change. Brain and body each expand at their own pace and through separate genetic pathways. There are distinct genetic processes acting on structural brain development, which cannot be explained by genetic increase in height. Hum Brain Mapp, 2013. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.