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Koen Haak, Christian Beckmann; Heritability of the human visual connectome. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):773. doi: 10.1167/18.10.773.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Visual perception requires the integrated activity of many functionally distinct cortical visual brain areas, served by an intricate network of cortico-cortical connections. An important open question concerns the degree to which the strength of these connections is under genetic control. In the present work, we derived the resting-state functional connectivity strength between twenty-five cortical visual areas (retinotopic maps) in each cerebral hemisphere of 499 Human Connectome Project (HCP) subjects and leveraged the fact that HCP subjects were drawn from families of twins and their non-twin siblings (60 monozygotic twin-pairs) to estimate the heritability of the visual connection strengths (i.e., h2: the amount of phenotypic variance that can be accounted for by the total additive genetic variance). On average over the entire human cortical visual connectome, genes accounted for roughly 10% of the phenotypic variance, with little difference between intra- and interhemispheric connections, and little difference between connections on the medial, ventral and lateral surfaces of the occipital lobe. The relatively low heritability of the cortical visual functional connectivity strengths suggests that they are determined primarily by the environment and other non-genetic factors, which in turn suggests a potential for brain plasticity in response to, for instance, eye disease.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018
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