Understanding the genetic and environmental contributions to measures of brain structure such as surface area and cortical thickness is important for a better understanding of the nature of brain-behavior relationships and changes due to development or disease. Continuous spatial maps of genetic influences on these structural features can contribute to our understanding of regional patterns of heritability, since it remains to be seen whether genetic contributions to brain structure respect the boundaries of any traditional parcellation approaches. Using data from magnetic resonance imaging scans collected on a large sample of monozygotic and dizygotic twins in the Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging, we created maps of the heritability of areal expansion (a vertex-based area measure) and cortical thickness and examined the degree to which these maps were affected by adjustment for total surface area and mean cortical thickness. We also compared the approach of estimating regional heritability based on the average heritability of vertices within the region to the more traditional region-of-interest (ROI)-based approach. The results suggested high heritability across the cortex for areal expansion and, to a slightly lesser degree, for cortical thickness. There was a great deal of genetic overlap between global and regional measures for surface area, so maps of region-specific genetic influences on surface area revealed more modest heritabilities. There was greater inter-regional variability in heritabilities when calculated using the traditional ROI-based approach compared to summarizing vertex-by-vertex heritabilities within regions. Discrepancies between the approaches were greatest in small regions and tended to be larger for surface area than for cortical thickness measures. Implications regarding brain phenotypes for future genetic association studies are discussed.
surface area; cortical thickness; region of interest; heritability maps
To describe a severe form of demyelinating HIV-associated leukoencephalopathy in AIDS patients failing highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), its relationship to clinical and neuroimaging findings, and suggest hypotheses regarding pathogenesis.
Design and methods
AIDS patients who failed HAART and displayed severe leukoencephalopathy were included. All cases had detailed neuromedical, neuropsychological, neuroimaging and postmortem neuropathological examination. Immunocytochemical and PCR analyses were performed to determine brain HIV levels and to exclude other viruses.
Seven recent autopsy cases of leukoencephalopathy in antiretroviral-experienced patients with AIDS were identified. Clinically, all were severely immunosuppressed, six (86%) had poorly controlled HIV replication despite combination antiretroviral therapy, and five (71%) had HIV-associated dementia. Neuropathologically, all seven had intense perivascular infiltration by HIV-gp41 immunoreactive monocytes/macrophages and lymphocytes, widespread myelin loss, axonal injury, microgliosis and astrogliosis. The extent of damage exceeds that described prior to the use of HAART. Brain tissue demonstrated high levels of HIV RNA but evidence of other pathogens, such as JC virus, Epstein–Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, human herpes virus type-8, and herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2, was absent. Comparison of the stages of pathology suggests a temporal sequence of events. In this model, white matter damage begins with perivascular infiltration by HIV-infected monocytes, which may occur as a consequence of antiretroviral-associated immune restoration. Intense infiltration by immune cells injures brain endothelial cells and is followed by myelin loss, axonal damage, and finally, astrogliosis.
Taken together, our findings provide evidence for the emergence of a severe form of HIV-associated leukoencephalopathy. This condition warrants further study and increased vigilance among those who provide care for HIV-infected individuals.
HIV leukoencephalopathy; antiretroviral therapy
Twin studies generally show great consistency for the heritability of brain structures. Ironically, the lateral ventricles—perhaps the most reliably measured brain regions of interest—are the most inconsistent when it comes to estimating genetic influences on their volume. Heritability estimates in twin studies have ranged from zero to almost 0.80. Here we aggregate heritability estimates from extant twin studies, and we review and re-interpret some of the findings. Based on our revised estimates, we conclude that lateral ventricular volume is indeed heritable. The weighted average heritability of the revised estimates was 0.54. Although accumulated environmental insults might seem most logical as the predominant cause of age-related ventricular expansion, the data strongly suggest that genetic influences on lateral ventricular volume are increasing with age. Genetic influences accounted for 32-35% of the variance in lateral ventricular volume in childhood, but about 75% of the variance in late middle and older age. These conclusions have implications for the basic understanding of the genetic and environmental underpinnings of normative and pathological brain aging.
lateral ventricles; genetics; aging; structural MRI; twins; endophenotype; mild cognitive impairment; Alzheimer’s disease
Animal data demonstrate that the development of distinct cortical areas is influenced by genes that exhibit highly regionalized expression patterns. In this paper, we show genetic patterning of cortical surface area derived from MRI data from 406 adult human twins. We mapped genetic correlations of areal expansion between selected seed regions and all other cortical locations, with the selection of seed points based on results from animal studies. “Marching seeds” and a data-driven, hypothesis-free, fuzzy clustering approach provided convergent validation. The results reveal strong anterior-to-posterior graded, bilaterally symmetric patterns of regionalization, largely consistent with patterns previously reported in non-human mammalian models. Broad similarities in genetic patterning between rodents and humans may suggest a conservation of cortical patterning mechanisms while dissimilarities might reflect the functionalities most essential to each species.
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.
cortex; cortical thickness; heritability
Little is known about genetic influences on the volume of subcortical brain structures in adult humans, particularly whether there is regional specificity of genetic effects. Understanding patterns of genetic covariation among volumes of subcortical structures may provide insight into the development of individual differences that have consequences for cognitive and emotional behavior and neuropsychiatric disease liability. We measured the volume of 19 subcortical structures (including brain and ventricular regions) in 404 twins (110 monozygotic and 92 dizygotic pairs) from the Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging and calculated the degree of genetic correlation among these volumes. We then examined the patterns of genetic correlation through hierarchical cluster analysis and by principal components analysis. We found that a model with four genetic factors best fit the data: a Basal Ganglia/Thalamus factor; a Ventricular factor; a Limbic factor; and a Nucleus Accumbens factor. Homologous regions from each hemisphere loaded on the same factors. The observed patterns of genetic correlation suggest the influence of multiple genetic influences. There is a genetic organization among structures which distinguishes between brain and cerebrospinal fluid spaces and between different subcortical regions. Further study is needed to understand this genetic patterning and whether it reflects influences on early development, functionally dependent patterns of growth or pruning, or regionally specific losses due to genes involved in aging, stress response, or disease.
behavioral genetics; hippocampus; amygdala; striatum; pallidum; caudate; putamen; thalamus; ventricles
According to the multi-process theory of prospective memory (ProM), time-based tasks rely more heavily on strategic processes dependent on prefrontal systems than do event-based tasks. Given the prominent frontostriatal pathophysiology of HIV infection, one would expect HIV-infected individuals to demonstrate greater deficits in time-based versus event-based ProM. However, the two prior studies examining this question have produced variable results. We evaluated this hypothesis in 143 individuals with HIV infection and 43 demographically similar seronegative adults (HIV−) who completed the research version of the Memory for Intentions Screening Test, which yields parallel subscales of time- and event-based ProM. Results showed main effects of HIV serostatus and cue type, but no interaction between serostatus and cue. Planned pair-wise comparisons showed a significant effect of HIV on time-based ProM and a trend-level effect on event-based ProM that was driven primarily by the subset of participants with HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders. Nevertheless, time-based ProM was more strongly correlated with measures of executive functions, attention/working memory, and verbal fluency in HIV-infected persons. Although HIV-associated deficits in time- and event-based ProM appear to be of comparable severity, the cognitive architecture of time-based ProM may be more strongly influenced by strategic monitoring and retrieval processes.
AIDS dementia complex; Episodic memory; Executive functions; Neuropsychological assessment
The presence of an ApoE ε4 allele (ε4+) increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Previous studies support an adverse relationship between ε4+ status and brain structure and function in mild cognitive impairment and AD; in contrast, the presence of an ε2 allele may be protective. Whether these findings reflect disease-related effects or pre-existing endophenotypes, however, remains unclear. The present study examined the influence of ApoE allele status on brain structure solely during middle-age in a large, national sample. Participants were 482 men, ages 51–59, from the Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging (VETSA). T1-weighted images were used in volumetric segmentation and cortical surface reconstruction methods to measure regional volume and thickness. Primary linear mixed effects models predicted structural measures with ApoE status (ε3/3, ε2/3, ε3/4) and control variables for effects of site, non-independence of twin data, age, and average cranial vault or cortical thickness. Relative to the ε3/3 group, the ε3/4 group demonstrated significantly thinner cortex in superior frontal and left rostral and right caudal midfrontal regions; there were no significant effects of ε4 status on any temporal lobe measures. The ε2/3 group demonstrated significantly thicker right parahippocampal cortex relative to the ε3/3 group. The ApoE ε4 allele may influence cortical thickness in frontal areas, which are later developing regions thought to be more susceptible to the natural aging process. Previous conflicting findings for mesial temporal regions may be driven by the inclusion of older individuals, who may evidence preclinical manifestations of disease, and by unexamined moderators of ε4-related effects. The presence of the ε2 allele was related to thicker cortex, supporting a protective role. Ongoing follow-up of the VETSA sample may shed light on the potential for age- and disease-related mediation of the influence of ApoE allele status.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Cerebral Cortex; Brain; Frontal Lobe; Apolipoproteins E; Apolipoprotein E2; Apolipoprotein E3; Apolipoprotein E4; Genetic Association Studies; Aging
Over the past twenty years, Tallal and colleagues have directed their research toward defining the neuropathological mechanisms responsible for developmental dysphasia. We have hypothesized that higher level auditory processing dysfunction, which has previously been associated with developmental dysphasia, may result from more basic temporal processing deficits which interfere with the resolution of rapidly presented, brief duration stimuli. This temporal processing deficit interferes with adequate perception of specific verbal stimuli which require resolution of brief duration formant transitions, resulting in disordered language development. The temporal processing deficit occurs across multiple sensory modalities, and also affects rapid and sequential motor production skills. Despite relatively normal clinical neuroradiological examinations, in vivo morphological analysis, utilizing magnetic resonance imaging techniques for quantitative volumetric measurements of specific brain structures, has identified abnormalities in superior parietal, prefrontal, and temporal cortices, as well as diencephalic and caudate nuclei. Abnormalities in structures which are involved in multimodal processing and sensory motor integration is consistent with the behavioral profile of developmental dysphasia. Two alternative hypotheses regarding the neurophysiological basis of the multimodal temporal processing disorder include: dysfunction in specifc cellular systems which subserve rapid, transient processing; and abnormal gating of sensory relay by intralaminar and reticular thalamic nuclei.
developmental dysphasia; dyslexia; temporal processing; MRI; thalamic nuclei; caudate nuclei
Late adolescence is comprised of considerable developmental transitions, though brain maturational changes during this period are subtle and difficult to quantitatively evaluate from standard brain imaging acquisitions. To date, primarily cross-sectional studies have characterized typical developmental changes during adolescence, but these processes need further description within a longitudinal framework.
To assess the developmental trajectory of typical white matter development, we examined 22 healthy adolescents with serial diffusion tensor images (DTI) collected at a mean age of 17.8 years and 16-months later. Diffusion parameters fractional anisotropy, and mean, radial, and axial diffusivity were subjected to whole-brain voxelwise time point comparisons using tract-based spatial statistics.
At follow-up, adolescents showed significant change (≥ 153 contiguous voxels each at p<.01) in diffusion properties, including in bilateral superior longitudinal fasciculi, superior corona radiata, anterior thalamic radiations, and posterior limb of the internal capsule. Overall, correlations with cognitive performances suggested behavioral improvement corresponding with white matter changes.
These longitudinal DTI findings support continued microstructural change in white matter during late adolescence, and suggest ongoing refinement of projection and association fibers into early adulthood.
Diffusion tensor imaging; Adolescence; White matter; Development; Maturation
Life stress is a robust risk factor for later development of mood disorders, particularly for individuals at familial risk. Likewise, scoring high on the personality trait neuroticism is associated with an increased risk for mood disorders. Neuroticism partly reflects stress vulnerability and is positively correlated to frontolimbic serotonin 2A (5-HT2A) receptor binding. Here, we investigate whether neuroticism interacts with familial risk in relation to frontolimbic 5-HT2A receptor binding. Twenty-one healthy twins with a co-twin history of mood disorder and 16 healthy twins without a co-twin history of mood disorder were included. They answered self-report personality questionnaires and underwent [18F]altanserin positron emission tomography. We found a significant interaction between neuroticism and familial risk in predicting the frontolimbic 5-HT2A receptor binding (p=0.026) in an analysis adjusting for age and body mass index. Within the high-risk group only, neuroticism and frontolimbic 5-HT2A receptor binding was positively associated (p=0.0037). In conclusion, our data indicate that familial risk and neuroticism interact in their relation to frontolimbic 5-HT2A receptor binding. These findings point at a plausible neurobiological link between genetic and personality risk factors and vulnerability to developing mood disorders. It contributes to our understanding of why some people at high risk develop mood disorders while others do not. We speculate that an increased stress reactivity in individuals at high familial risk for mood disorders might enhance the effect of neuroticism in shaping the impact of potential environmental stress and thereby influence serotonergic neurotransmission.
5-HT2A; depression; personality; neuroticism; stress; PET; Biological Psychiatry; Serotonin; Depression; Unipolar/Bipolar; Imaging; Clinical or Preclinical; 5-HT; 5-HT2A; affective disorder; personality; PET
Approximately half of those infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) exhibit cognitive impairment, which has been related to cerebral white matter damage. Despite the effectiveness of antiretroviral treatment, cognitive impairment remains common even in individuals with undetectable viral loads. One explanation for this may be subtherapeutic concentrations of some antiretrovirals in the central nervous system (CNS). We utilized diffusion tensor imaging and a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation to investigate the relationship of white matter integrity to cognitive impairment and antiretroviral treatment variables. Participants included 39 HIV-infected individuals (49% with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome [AIDS]; mean CD4=529) and 25 seronegative subjects. Diffusion tensor imaging indices were mapped onto a common whole-brain white matter tract skeleton, allowing between-subject voxelwise comparisons. The total HIV-infected group exhibited abnormal white matter in the internal capsule, inferior longitudinal fasciculus, and optic radiation; whereas those with AIDS exhibited more widespread damage, including in the internal capsule and the corpus callosum. Cognitive impairment in the HIV-infected group was related to white matter injury in the internal capsule, corpus callosum, and superior longitudinal fasciculus. White matter injury was not found to be associated with HIV viral load or estimated CNS penetration of antiretrovirals. Diffusion tensor imaging was useful in identifying changes in white matter tracts associated with more advanced HIV infection. Relationships between diffusion alterations in specific white matter tracts and cognitive impairment support the potential utility of diffusion tensor imaging in examining the anatomical underpinnings of HIV-related cognitive impairment. The study also confirms that CNS injury is evident in persons infected with HIV despite effective antiretroviral treatment.
diffusion tensor imaging; HIV dementia; neuropsychological assessment
We explored the possible augmenting effect of traumatic brain injury (TBI) history on HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) associated neurocognitive complications. HIV-infected participants with self-reported history of definite TBI were compared to HIV patients without TBI history. Groups were equated for relevant demographic and HIV-associated characteristics. The TBI group evidenced significantly greater deficits in executive functioning and working memory. N-acetylaspartate, a putative marker of neuronal integrity, was significantly lower in the frontal gray matter and basal ganglia brain regions of the TBI group. Together, these results suggest an additional brain impact of TBI over that from HIV alone. One clinical implication is that HIV patients with TBI history may need to be monitored more closely for increased risk of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder signs or symptoms.
Head injury; HIV associated neurocognitive disorder; Neuropsychological performance; Magnetic resonance spectroscopy; N-acetylaspartate
Combination antiretroviral therapy (CART) has greatly reduced medical morbidity and mortality with HIV infection, but high rates of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) continue to be reported. Because large HIV-infected (HIV+) and uninfected (HIV−) groups have not been studied with similar methods in the pre-CART and CART eras, it is unclear whether CART has changed the prevalence, nature, and clinical correlates of HAND. We used comparable methods of subject screening and assessments to classify neurocognitive impairment (NCI) in large groups of HIV + and HIV − participants from the pre-CART era (1988–1995; N = 857) and CART era (2000–2007; N = 937). Impairment rate increased with successive disease stages (CDC stages A, B, and C) in both eras: 25%, 42%, and 52% in pre-CART era and 36%, 40%, and 45% in CART era. In the medically asymptomatic stage (CDC-A), NCI was significantly more common in the CART era. Low nadir CD4 predicted NCI in both eras, whereas degree of current immunosuppression, estimated duration of infection, and viral suppression in CSF (on treatment) were related to impairment only pre-CART. Pattern of NCI also differed: pre-CART had more impairment in motor skills, cognitive speed, and verbal fluency, whereas CART era involved more memory (learning) and executive function impairment. High rates of mild NCI persist at all stages of HIV infection, despite improved viral suppression and immune reconstitution with CART. The consistent association of NCI with nadir CD4 across eras suggests that earlier treatment to prevent severe immunosuppression may also help prevent HAND. Clinical trials targeting HAND prevention should specifically examine timing of ART initiation.
HIV; Combination antiretroviral therapy; HIV dementia
Over the past several decades, significant advances have been made in our understanding of the basic stages and mechanisms of mammalian brain development. Studies elucidating the neurobiology of brain development span the levels of neural organization from the macroanatomic, to the cellular, to the molecular. Together this large body of work provides a picture of brain development as the product of a complex series of dynamic and adaptive processes operating within a highly constrained, genetically organized but constantly changing context. The view of brain development that has emerged from the developmental neurobiology literature presents both challenges and opportunities to psychologists seeking to understand the fundamental processes that underlie social and cognitive development, and the neural systems that mediate them. This chapter is intended to provide an overview of some very basic principles of brain development, drawn from contemporary developmental neurobiology, that may be of use to investigators from a wide range of disciplines.
Brain development; maturation; Magnetic resonance imaging; Diffusion weighted imaging; Genetic patterning of brain; Neurogenesis; Myelination; Effects of experience on connectivity
Neuroimaging studies examining the effects of aging and neuropsychiatric disorders on the cerebral cortex have largely been based on measures of cortical volume. Given that cortical volume is a product of thickness and surface area, it is plausible that measures of volume capture at least 2 distinct sets of genetic influences. The present study aims to examine the genetic relationships between measures of cortical surface area and thickness. Participants were men in the Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging (110 monozygotic pairs and 92 dizygotic pairs). Mean age was 55.8 years (range: 51–59). Bivariate twin analyses were utilized in order to estimate the heritability of cortical surface area and thickness, as well as their degree of genetic overlap. Total cortical surface area and average cortical thickness were both highly heritable (0.89 and 0.81, respectively) but were essentially unrelated genetically (genetic correlation = 0.08). This pattern was similar at the lobar and regional levels of analysis. These results demonstrate that cortical volume measures combine at least 2 distinct sources of genetic influences. We conclude that using volume in a genetically informative study, or as an endophenotype for a disorder, may confound the underlying genetic architecture of brain structure.
cortical volume; genetic correlation; heritability; magnetic resonance imaging; twin study
Performance of automated methods to isolate brain from nonbrain tissues in magnetic resonance (MR) structural images may be influenced by MR signal inhomogeneities, type of MR image set, regional anatomy, and age and diagnosis of subjects studied. The present study compared the performance of four methods: Brain Extraction Tool (BET; Smith : Hum Brain Mapp 17:143–155); 3dIntracranial (Ward  Milwaukee: Biophysics Research Institute, Medical College of Wisconsin; in AFNI); a Hybrid Watershed algorithm (HWA, Segonne et al.  Neuroimage 22:1060–1075; in FreeSurfer); and Brain Surface Extractor (BSE, Sandor and Leahy  IEEE Trans Med Imag 16:41–54; Shattuck et al.  Neuroimage 13:856 – 876) to manually stripped images. The methods were applied to uncorrected and bias-corrected datasets; Legacy and Contemporary T1-weighted image sets; and four diagnostic groups (depressed, Alzheimer’s, young and elderly control). To provide a criterion for outcome assessment, two experts manually stripped six sagittal sections for each dataset in locations where brain and nonbrain tissue are difficult to distinguish. Methods were compared on Jaccard similarity coefficients, Hausdorff distances, and an Expectation-Maximization algorithm. Methods tended to perform better on contemporary datasets; bias correction did not significantly improve method performance. Mesial sections were most difficult for all methods. Although AD image sets were most difficult to strip, HWA and BSE were more robust across diagnostic groups compared with 3dIntracranial and BET. With respect to specificity, BSE tended to perform best across all groups, whereas HWA was more sensitive than other methods. The results of this study may direct users towards a method appropriate to their T1-weighted datasets and improve the efficiency of processing for large, multisite neuroimaging studies.
brain; MRI; Alzheimer’s disease; aging; image processing; statistics
Due to the increasing need for subject privacy, the ability to deidentify structural MR images so that they do not provide full facial detail is desirable. A program was developed that uses models of nonbrain structures for removing potentially identifying facial features. When a novel image is presented, the optimal linear transform is computed for the input volume (Fischl et al. : Neuron 33:341–355; Fischl et al. : Neuroimage 23 (Suppl 1):S69–S84). A brain mask is constructed by forming the union of all voxels with nonzero probability of being brain and then morphologically dilated. All voxels outside the mask with a nonzero probability of being a facial feature are set to 0. The algorithm was applied to 342 datasets that included two different T1-weighted pulse sequences and four different diagnoses (depressed, Alzheimer’s, and elderly and young control groups). Visual inspection showed none had brain tissue removed. In a detailed analysis of the impact of defacing on skull-stripping, 16 datasets were bias corrected with N3 (Sled et al. : IEEE Trans Med Imaging 17:87–97), defaced, and then skull-stripped using either a hybrid watershed algorithm (Ségonne et al. : Neuroimage 22:1060–1075, in FreeSurfer) or Brain Surface Extractor (Sandor and Leahy : IEEE Trans Med Imaging 16:41–54; Shattuck et al. : Neuroimage 13:856–876); defacing did not appreciably influence the outcome of skull-stripping. Results suggested that the automatic defacing algorithm is robust, efficiently removes nonbrain tissue, and does not unduly influence the outcome of the processing methods utilized; in some cases, skull-stripping was improved. Analyses support this algorithm as a viable method to allow data sharing with minimal data alteration within large-scale multisite projects.
MRI; image processing; statistics; HIPAA; algorithms; humans