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Brain SCALE: Brain Structure and Cognition: an Adolescent Longitudinal Twin Study into the Genetic Etiology of Individual Differences

  • Inge L. C. van Soelen (a1) (a2), Rachel M. Brouwer (a2), Jiska S. Peper (a2) (a3), Marieke van Leeuwen (a1) (a4), Marinka M. G. Koenis (a2), Toos C. E. M. van Beijsterveldt (a1), Suzanne C. Swagerman (a1), René S. Kahn (a2), Hilleke E. Hulshoff Pol (a2) and Dorret I. Boomsma (a1)...
Abstract

From childhood into adolescence, the child's brain undergoes considerable changes in both structure and function. Twin studies are of great value to explore to what extent genetic and environmental factors explain individual differences in brain development and cognition. In The Netherlands, we initiated a longitudinal study in which twins, their siblings and their parents are assessed at three year intervals. The participants were recruited from The Netherlands Twin Register (NTR) and at baseline consisted of 112 families, with 9-year-old twins and an older sibling. Three years later, 89 families returned for follow-up assessment. Data collection included psychometric IQ tests, a comprehensive neuropsychological testing protocol, and parental and self-ratings of behavioral and emotional problems. Physical maturation was measured through assessment of Tanner stages. Hormonal levels (cortisol, luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, testosterone, and estrogens) were assessed in urine and saliva. Brain scans were acquired using 1.5 Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), which provided volumetric measures and measures of cortical thickness. Buccal swabs were collected for DNA isolation for future candidate gene and genome-wide analysis studies. This article gives an overview of the study and the main findings. Participants will return for a third assessment when the twins are around 16 years old. Longitudinal twin-sibling studies that map brain development and cognitive function at well-defined ages aid in the understanding of genetic influences on normative brain development.

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Corresponding author
address for correspondence: Dorret Boomsma, Department of Biological Psychology, VU University, Van der Boechorststraat 1, 1081 BT, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. E-mail: di.boomsma@vu.nl OR Hilleke Hulshoff Pol, Department of Psychiatry, A01.126, University Medical Center, Utrecht, Heidelberglaan 100, 3584 CX Utrecht, The Netherlands. E-mail: h.e.hulshoff@umcutrecht.nl
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Twin Research and Human Genetics
  • ISSN: 1832-4274
  • EISSN: 1839-2628
  • URL: /core/journals/twin-research-and-human-genetics
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