Genetic influence on lifespan brain development – new PNAS paper

Our group has just published a new research paper in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. The study investigates how genetically determined neurodevelopmental events can have consequences for the structural architecture of the brain that span the duration of human life, and thus how both neurodevelopment and aging relate to the underlying genetic organization of the cerebral cortex. A total of 1633 brain scans were used from a longitudinal sample of 974 participants aged between 4 and ~89 years of age, in addition to 773 scans of children below the age of 12. A separate sample of adult twins was used to obtain brain maps indicating the regions of the cerebral cortex that showed the highest degree of genetic overlap in terms of cortical thickness. Cortical changes as a result of both early brain maturation and aging were found to adhere closely to the genetic organization of the cerebral cortex. This finding suggests that predetermined genetic factors contribute to cortical changes occurring throughout life.


Fjell, A. M., Grydeland, H., Krogsrud, S. K., Amlien, I., Rohani, D. A., Ferschmann, L., … & Walhovd, K. B. (2015). Development and aging of cortical thickness correspond to genetic organization patterns. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201508831.