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Journal Article

Personality and local brain structure: Their shared genetic basis and reproducibility


Valk,  Sofie L.
Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine, Research Center Jülich, Germany;
Institute of Systems Neuroscience, University Hospital Düsseldorf, Germany;
Otto Hahn Group Cognitive Neurogenetics, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Valk, S. L., Hoffstaedter, F., Camilleri, J. A., Kochunov, P., Yeo, B. T. T., & Eickhoff, S. B. (2020). Personality and local brain structure: Their shared genetic basis and reproducibility. NeuroImage, 220: 117067. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2020.117067.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-9E86-1
Local cortical architecture is highly heritable and distinct genes are associated with specific cortical regions. Total surface area has been shown to be genetically correlated with complex cognitive capacities, suggesting cortical brain structure is a viable endophenotype linking genes to behavior. However, to what extend local brain structure has a genetic association with cognitive and emotional functioning is incompletely understood. Here, we study the genetic correlation between personality traits and local cortical structure in a large-scale twin sample (Human Connectome Project, n ​= ​1102, 22-37y) and we evaluated whether observed associations reflect generalizable relationships between personality and local brain structure two independent age-matched samples (Brain Genomics Superstructure Project: n ​= ​925, age ​= ​19-35y, enhanced Nathan Kline Institute dataset: n ​= ​209, age: 19-39y). We found a genetic overlap between personality traits and local cortical structure in 10 of 18 observed phenotypic associations in predominantly frontal cortices. However, we only observed evidence in favor of replication for the negative association between surface area in medial prefrontal cortex and Neuroticism in both replication samples. Quantitative functional decoding indicated this region is implicated in emotional and socio-cognitive functional processes. In sum, our observations suggest that associations between local brain structure and personality are, in part, under genetic control. However, associations are weak and only the relation between frontal surface area and Neuroticism was consistently observed across three independent samples of young adults.