The thickness of later evolving and maturing areas of the brain’s outer mantle, or cortex, shows increasing genetic influence as the brain develops in childhood and adolescence, NIMH researchers have discovered.
“The heritability of cortex thickness increases gradually throughout late childhood and adolescence, with three more uniquely human areas, including circuitry supporting language and thinking, emerging as the most genetically influenced,” explained Jay Giedd, M.D., of the National Institute of Mental Health. “These same increasingly heritable brain areas are also most implicated in mental illnesses, which typically emerge in late adolescence. So the findings may provide insights into the workings of gene-by-environment-by age interactions that underlie the perplexing delayed onset of these disorders.”
The dynamic role of genetics on cortical patterning during childhood and adolescence Schmitt JE, Neale MC, Fassassi B, Perez J, Lenroot RK, Wells EM, Giedd JN. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 May 6;111(18):6774-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1311630111. Epub 2014 Apr 21. PMID:24753564. Free Article