Paul Thompson's Research Publications
Mapping Genetic Influences on Human Brain Structure
Paul Thompson PhD, Tyrone D. Cannon PhD, Arthur W. Toga PhD
Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, Division of Brain Mapping, and
Departments of Psychology, Psychiatry, and Human Genetics,
UCLA School of Medicine
Review Paper, Annals of Medicine 2002;34(7-8):523-36; in the series on Trends in Molecular Medicine.
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Recent advances in brain imaging and genetics have empowered the mapping of genetic and
environmental influences on the human brain. These techniques shed light on the nature/nurture
debate, revealing how genes determine individual differences in IQ or risk for disease. They
visualize which aspects of brain structure and function are heritable, and to what degree,
linking these features with behavioral or cognitive traits or disease phenotypes. In genetically
transmitted disorders such as schizophrenia, patterns of brain structure can be associated with
increased disease liability, and sites can be mapped where non-genetic triggers may initiate disease.
We recently developed a large-scale computational brain atlas, including data components from the
Finnish Twin registry, to store information on individual variations in brain structure and their
heritability. Algorithms from random field theory, anatomical modeling, and population genetics
were combined to detect a genetic continuum in which brain structure is heavily genetically
determined in some areas but not others. These algorithmic advances motivate studies of disease
in which the normative atlas acts as a quantitative reference for the heritability of structural
differences and deficits in patient populations. The resulting genetic brain maps isolate biological
markers for inherited traits and disease susceptibility, which may serve as targets for genetic
linkage and association studies. Computational methods from brain imaging and genetics can be
fruitfully merged, to shed light on the inheritance of personality differences and behavioral
traits, and the genetic transmission of diseases that affect the human brain.
Press Release on Genes, Brain, and Cognition
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Paul Thompson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Neurology
UCLA Lab of Neuro-Imaging and Brain Mapping Division
Dept. Neurology and Brain Research Institute
4238 Reed Neurology, UCLA Medical Center
710 Westwood Plaza
Westwood, Los Angeles CA 90095-1769, USA.