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Patterns of socio-cognitive stratification and perinatal risk in the child brain

By Dag Alnaes, Tobias Kaufmann, Andre marquand, Stephen M. Smith, Lars T. Westlye

Posted 13 Nov 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/839969

The expanding behavioral repertoire of the developing brain during childhood and adolescence is shaped by complex brain-environment interactions and flavored by unique life experiences. The transition into young adulthood offer opportunities for adaptation and growth, but also increased susceptibility to environmental perturbations, such as the characteristics of social relationships, family environment, quality of schools and activities, financial security, urbanization and pollution, drugs, cultural practices, and values, that all act in concert with our genetic architecture and biology. Our multivariate brain-behavior mapping in 7,577 children aged 9-11 years across 585 brain imaging phenotypes, and 617 cognitive, behavioral, psychosocial and socioeconomic measures revealed three population modes of brain co-variation, which were robust as assessed by cross-validation and permutation testing, taking into account siblings and twins, identified using genetic data. The first mode revealed traces of perinatal complications, including pre-term and twin-birth, eclampsia and toxemia, shorter period of breast feeding and lower cognitive scores, with higher cortical thickness and lower cortical areas and volumes. The second mode reflected a pattern of socio-cognitive stratification, linking lower cognitive ability and socioeconomic status to lower cortical thickness, area and volumes. The third mote captured a pattern related to urbanicity, with particulate matter pollution (PM25) inversely related to home value, walkability and population density, associated with diffusion properties of white matter tracts. These results underscore the importance of a multidimensional and interdisciplinary understanding, integrating social, psychological and biological sciences, to map the constituents of healthy development and to identify factors that may precede maladjustment and mental illness.

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