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The folding of the human cerebral cortex is a highly genetically regulated process that allows for a much larger surface area to fit into the cranial vault and optimizes functional organization. Sulcal depth is a robust, yet understudied measure of localized folding, previously associated with a range of neurodevelopmental disorders. Here, we report the first genome-wide association study of sulcal depth. Through the Multivariate Omnibus Statistical Test (MOSTest) applied to vertex-wise measures from 33,748 participants of the UK Biobank (mean age 64.3 years, 52.0% female) we identified 856 genetic loci associated with sulcal depth at genome-wide significance (p=5x10-8). Comparison with two other measures of cortical morphology, cortical thickness and surface area, indicated that sulcal depth has higher yield in terms of loci discovered, higher heritability and higher effective sample size. There was a large amount of genetic overlap between the three traits, with gene-based analyses indicating strong associations with neurodevelopmental processes. Our findings demonstrate sulcal depth is a promising MRI phenotype that may enhance our understanding of human cortical morphology.

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