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Brain structure mediates the association between height and cognitive ability

By Eero Vuoksimaa, Matthew S. Panizzon, Carol E. Franz, Christine Fennema-Notestine, Donald J. Hagler, Michael J Lyons, Anders M. Dale, William S. Kremen

Posted 01 Sep 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/183525 (published DOI: 10.1007/s00429-018-1675-4)

Height and general cognitive ability (GCA) are positively associated, but the underlying mechanisms of this relationship are unclear. We used a sample of 515 middle-aged male twins with structural magnetic resonance imaging data to study if the association between height and cognitive ability is mediated by cortical size. We used genetically, ontogenetically and phylogenetically distinct cortical metrics of cortical surface area (SA) and cortical thickness (CT). Our results indicate that the well-replicated height-GCA association is accounted for by individual differences in total cortical SA (highly heritable metric related to global brain size), and not mean CT, and that the genetic association between SA and GCA underlies the phenotypic height-GCA relationship.

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