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Genetic Underpinnings of Risky Behaviour Relate to Altered Neuroanatomy

By Gökhan Aydogan, Remi Daviet, Richard Karlsson Linnér, Todd Hare, Joseph W. Kable, Henry R. Kranzler, Reagan Wetherill, Christian C Ruff, Philipp D. Koellinger, Gideon Nave

Posted 02 Dec 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/862417

Previous research points to the heritability of risk-taking behaviour. However, evidence on how genetic dispositions are translated into risky behaviour is scarce. Here, we report a genetically-informed neuroimaging study of real-world risky behaviour across the domains of drinking, smoking, driving, and sexual behaviour, in a European sample from the UK Biobank ( N = 12,675). We find negative associations between risky behaviour and grey matter volume (GMV) in distinct brain regions, including amygdala, ventral striatum, hypothalamus, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC). These effects replicate in an independent sample recruited from the same population ( N =13,004). Polygenic risk scores for risky behaviour, derived from a genome-wide association study in an independent sample ( N =297,025), are inversely associated with GMV in dlPFC, putamen, and hypothalamus. This relation mediates ~2.2% of the association between genes and behaviour. Our results highlight distinct heritable neuroanatomical features as manifestations of the genetic propensity for risk taking. One Sentence Summary Risky behaviour and its genetic associations are linked to less grey matter volume in distinct brain regions. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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