Description: Twin studies have long suggested a genetic influence on inter-individual variations in mathematical abilities, and candidate genes have been identified by genome-wide association studies. However, the localization of the brain regions under genetic influence during number manipulation is still unexplored. Here we investigated fMRI data from a group of 19 MZ (monozygotic) and 13 DZ (dizygotic) adult twin pairs, scanned during a mental calculation task. We examined both the activation and the degree of functional lateralization in regions of interest (ROIs) centered on the main activated peaks. Heritability was first investigated by comparing the respective MZ and DZ correlations. Then, genetic and environmental contributions were jointly estimated by fitting a ACE model classically used in twin studies. We found that a subset of the activated network was under genetic influence, encompassing the bilateral posterior superior parietal lobules (PSPL), the right intraparietal sulcus (IPS) and a left superior frontal region. An additional region of the left inferior parietal cortex (IPC), whose deactivation correlated with a behavioral calculation score, also presented higher similarity between MZ than between DZ twins, thus offering a plausible physiological basis for the observable inheritance of math scores. Finally, the main impact of the shared environment was found in the lateralization of activation within the intraparietal sulcus. These maps of genetic and environmental contributions provide precise candidate phenotypes for further genetic association analyses, and illuminate how genetics and education shape the development of number processing networks.
Related article: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.04.118
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