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author:("Johnson, kor")
1.  CHANGES IN ANATOMICAL BRAIN CONNECTIVITY BETWEEN AGES 12 AND 30: A HARDI STUDY OF 467 ADOLESCENTS AND ADULTS 
Graph theory can be applied to matrices that represent the brain’s anatomical connections, to better understand global properties of anatomical networks, such as their clustering, efficiency and “small-world” topology. Network analysis is popular in adult studies of connectivity, but only one study – in just 30 subjects – has examined how network measures change as the brain develops over this period. Here we assessed the developmental trajectory of graph theory metrics of structural brain connectivity in a cross-sectional study of 467 subjects, aged 12 to 30. We computed network measures from 70×70 connectivity matrices of fiber density generated using whole-brain tractography in 4-Tesla 105-gradient high angular resolution diffusion images (HARDI). We assessed global efficiency and modularity, and both age and age2 effects were identified. HARDI-based connectivity maps are sensitive to the remodeling and refinement of structural brain connections as the human brain develops.
doi:10.1109/ISBI.2012.6235695
PMCID: PMC3420974  PMID: 22903354
graph theory; high angular resolution diffusion imaging (HARDI); tractography; network analyses; development; structural connectivity
2.  GENE NETWORK EFFECTS ON BRAIN MICROSTRUCTURE AND INTELLECTUAL PERFORMANCE IDENTIFIED IN 472 TWINS 
A major challenge in neuroscience is finding which genes affect brain integrity, connectivity, and intellectual function. Discovering influential genes holds vast promise for neuroscience, but typical genome-wide searches assess around one million genetic variants one-by-one, leading to intractable false positive rates, even with vast samples of subjects. Even more intractable is the question of which genes interact and how they work together to affect brain connectivity. Here we report a novel approach that discovers which genes contribute to brain wiring and fiber integrity at all pairs of points in a brain scan. We studied genetic correlations between thousands of points in human brain images from 472 twins and their non-twin siblings (mean age: 23.7±2.1 SD years; 193 M/279 F). We combined clustering with genome-wide scanning to find brain systems with common genetic determination. We then filtered the image in a new way to boost power to find causal genes. Using network analysis, we found a network of genes that affect brain wiring in healthy young adults. Our new strategy makes it more computationally tractable to discover genes that affect brain integrity. The gene network showed small-world and scale-free topologies, suggesting efficiency in genetic interactions, and resilience to network disruption. Genetic variants at hubs of the network influence intellectual performance by modulating associations between performance intelligence quotient (IQ) and the integrity of major white matter tracts, such as the callosal genu and splenium, cingulum, optic radiations, and the superior longitudinal fasciculus.
doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5993-11.2012
PMCID: PMC3420968  PMID: 22723713
imaging genetics; twins; white matter; diffusion imaging; intelligence quotient; scale-free network; small-world network
3.  Altered Structural Brain Connectivity in Healthy Carriers of the Autism Risk Gene, CNTNAP2 
Brain Connectivity  2011;1(6):447-459.
Abstract
Recently, carriers of a common variant in the autism risk gene, CNTNAP2, were found to have altered functional brain connectivity using functional MRI. Here, we scanned 328 young adults with high-field (4-Tesla) diffusion imaging, to test the hypothesis that carriers of this gene variant would have altered structural brain connectivity. All participants (209 women, 119 men, age: 23.4±2.17 SD years) were scanned with 105-gradient high-angular-resolution diffusion imaging (HARDI) at 4 Tesla. After performing a whole-brain fiber tractography using the full angular resolution of the diffusion scans, 70 cortical surface-based regions of interest were created from each individual's co-registered anatomical data to compute graph metrics for all pairs of cortical regions. In graph theory analyses, subjects homozygous for the risk allele (CC) had lower characteristic path length, greater small-worldness and global efficiency in whole-brain analyses, and lower eccentricity (maximum path length) in 60 of the 70 nodes in regional analyses. These results were not reducible to differences in more commonly studied traits such as fiber density or fractional anisotropy. This is the first study that links graph theory metrics of brain structural connectivity to a common genetic variant linked with autism and will help us understand the neurobiology of the circuits implicated in the risk for autism.
doi:10.1089/brain.2011.0064
PMCID: PMC3420970  PMID: 22500773
autism; CNTNAP2; graph theory; HARDI; structural connectivity; twins
4.  Relationship of a variant in the NTRK1 gene to white matter microstructure in young adults 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2012;32(17):5964-5972.
The NTRK1 gene (also known as TRKA) encodes a high affinity receptor for NGF, a neurotrophin involved in nervous system development and myelination. NTRK1 has been implicated in neurological function via links between the T allele at rs6336 (NTRK1-T) and schizophrenia risk. A variant in the neurotrophin gene, BDNF, was previously associated with white matter integrity in young adults, highlighting the importance of neurotrophins to white matter development. We hypothesized that NTRK1-T would relate to lower FA in healthy adults.
We scanned 391 healthy adult human twins and their siblings (mean age: 23.6 ± 2.2 years; 31 NTRK1-T carriers, 360 non-carriers) using 105-gradient diffusion tensor imaging at 4 Tesla. We evaluated in brain white matter how NTRK1-T and NTRK1 rs4661063 allele A (rs4661063-A, which is in moderate linkage disequilibrium with rs6336) related to voxelwise fractional anisotropy – a common diffusion tensor imaging measure of white matter microstructure. We used mixed-model regression to control for family relatedness, age, and sex. The sample was split in half to test results reproducibility. The false discovery rate method corrected for voxelwise multiple comparisons.
NTRK1-T and rs4661063-A correlated with lower white matter fractional anisotropy, independent of age and sex (multiple comparisons corrected: false discovery rate critical p = 0.038 for NTRK1-T and 0.013 for rs4661063-A). In each half-sample, the NTRK1-T effect was replicated in the cingulum, corpus callosum, superior and inferior longitudinal fasciculi, inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, superior corona radiata, and uncinate fasciculus. Our results suggest that NTRK1-T is important for developing white matter microstructure.
doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5561-11.2012
PMCID: PMC3393752  PMID: 22539856
5.  Altered Structural Brain Connectivity in Healthy Carriers of the Autism Risk Gene, CNTNAP2 
Brain connectivity  2011;1(6):447-459.
Recently, carriers of a common variant in the autism risk gene, CNTNAP2, were found to have altered functional brain connectivity using functional MRI. Here we scanned 328 young adults with high-field (4-Tesla) diffusion imaging, to test the hypothesis that carriers of this gene variant would have altered structural brain connectivity. All participants (209 females, 119 males, age: 23.4 +/−2.17 SD years) were scanned with 105-gradient high angular diffusion imaging (HARDI) at 4 Tesla. After performing a whole-brain fiber tractography using the full angular resolution of the diffusion scans, 70 cortical surface-based regions of interest were created from each individual’s co-registered anatomical data to compute graph metrics for all pairs of cortical regions. In graph theory analyses, subjects homozygous for the risk allele (CC) had lower characteristic path length, greater small-worldness and global efficiency in whole brain analyses, as well as greater eccentricity (maximum path length) in 60 of 70 nodes in regional analyses. These results were not reducible to differences in more commonly studied traits such as fiber density or fractional anisotropy. This is the first study to link graph theory metrics of brain structural connectivity to a common genetic variant linked with autism and will help us understand the neurobiology of circuits implicated in risk for autism.
doi:10.1089/brain.2011.0064
PMCID: PMC3420970  PMID: 22500773
structural connectivity; HARDI; autism; CNTNAP2; graph theory; twins
6.  Neural mechanisms underlying the facilitation of naming in aphasia using a semantic task: an fMRI study 
BMC Neuroscience  2012;13:98.
Background
Previous attempts to investigate the effects of semantic tasks on picture naming in both healthy controls and people with aphasia have typically been confounded by inclusion of the phonological word form of the target item. As a result, it is difficult to isolate any facilitatory effects of a semantically-focused task to either lexical-semantic or phonological processing. This functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study examined the neurological mechanisms underlying short-term (within minutes) and long-term (within days) facilitation of naming from a semantic task that did not include the phonological word form, in both participants with aphasia and age-matched controls.
Results
Behavioral results showed that a semantic task that did not include the phonological word form can successfully facilitate subsequent picture naming in both healthy controls and individuals with aphasia. The whole brain neuroimaging results for control participants identified a repetition enhancement effect in the short-term, with modulation of activity found in regions that have not traditionally been associated with semantic processing, such as the right lingual gyrus (extending to the precuneus) and the left inferior occipital gyrus (extending to the fusiform gyrus). In contrast, the participants with aphasia showed significant differences in activation over both the short- and the long-term for facilitated items, predominantly within either left hemisphere regions linked to semantic processing or their right hemisphere homologues.
Conclusions
For control participants in this study, the short-lived facilitation effects of a prior semantic task that did not include the phonological word form were primarily driven by object priming and episodic memory mechanisms. However, facilitation effects appeared to engage a predominantly semantic network in participants with aphasia over both the short- and the long-term. The findings of the present study also suggest that right hemisphere involvement may be supportive rather than maladaptive, and that a large distributed perisylvian network in both cerebral hemispheres supports the facilitation of naming in individuals with aphasia.
doi:10.1186/1471-2202-13-98
PMCID: PMC3477078  PMID: 22882806
Aphasia; Semantic verification; fMRI; Overt picture naming; Semantics
7.  Priming Picture Naming with a Semantic Task: An fMRI Investigation 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e32809.
Prior semantic processing can enhance subsequent picture naming performance, yet the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying this effect and its longevity are unknown. This functional magnetic resonance imaging study examined whether different neurological mechanisms underlie short-term (within minutes) and long-term (within days) facilitation effects from a semantic task in healthy older adults. Both short- and long-term facilitated items were named significantly faster than unfacilitated items, with short-term items significantly faster than long-term items. Region of interest results identified decreased activity for long-term facilitated items compared to unfacilitated and short-term facilitated items in the mid-portion of the middle temporal gyrus, indicating lexical-semantic priming. Additionally, in the whole brain results, increased activity for short-term facilitated items was identified in regions previously linked to episodic memory and object recognition, including the right lingual gyrus (extending to the precuneus region) and the left inferior occipital gyrus (extending to the left fusiform region). These findings suggest that distinct neurocognitive mechanisms underlie short- and long-term facilitation of picture naming by a semantic task, with long-term effects driven by lexical-semantic priming and short-term effects by episodic memory and visual object recognition mechanisms.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0032809
PMCID: PMC3296742  PMID: 22412928
8.  The neural correlates of picture naming facilitated by auditory repetition 
BMC Neuroscience  2012;13:21.
Background
Overt repetition of auditorily presented words can facilitate picture naming performance in both unimpaired speakers and individuals with word retrieval difficulties, but the underlying neurocognitive mechanisms and longevity of such effects remain unclear. This study used functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine whether different neurological mechanisms underlie short-term (within minutes) and long-term (within days) facilitation effects from an auditory repetition task in healthy older adults.
Results
The behavioral results showed that both short- and long-term facilitated items were named significantly faster than unfacilitated items, with short-term items significantly faster than long-term items. Neuroimaging analyses identified a repetition suppression effect for long-term facilitated items, relative to short-term facilitated and unfacilitated items, in regions known to be associated with both semantic and phonological processing. A repetition suppression effect was also observed for short-term facilitated items when compared to unfacilitated items in a region of the inferior temporal lobe linked to semantic processing and object recognition, and a repetition enhancement effect when compared to long-term facilitated items in a posterior superior temporal region associated with phonological processing.
Conclusions
These findings suggest that different neurocognitive mechanisms underlie short- and long-term facilitation of picture naming by an auditory repetition task, reflecting both phonological and semantic processing. More specifically, the brain areas engaged were consistent with the view that long-term facilitation may be driven by a strengthening of semantic-phonological connections. Short-term facilitation, however, appears to result in more efficient semantic processing and/or object recognition, possibly in conjunction with active recognition of the phonological form.
doi:10.1186/1471-2202-13-21
PMCID: PMC3310813  PMID: 22364354
9.  The Contribution of Genes to Cortical Thickness and Volume 
Neuroreport  2011;22(3):101-105.
We analyzed brain MRI data from 372 young adult twins to identify cortical regions in which gray matter thickness and volume are influenced by genetics. This was achieved using a A/C/E structural equation model that divides the variance of these traits, at each point on the cortex, into additive genetic (A), shared (C) and unique environmental (E) components. A strong genetic influence was found in frontal and parietal regions. Additionally, we correlated cortical thickness with full-scale IQ for comparison with the A/C/E maps, and several regions where cortical structure was correlated with IQ are under genetic control. These cortical measures may be useful phenotypes to narrow the search for quantitative trait loci influencing brain structure.
doi:10.1097/WNR.0b013e3283424c84
PMCID: PMC3079384  PMID: 21233781
brain; image analysis; magnetic resonance imaging; cortex; genetics

Results 1-9 (9)