Human Connectome Project: heritability of brain volumes in young healthy adults

Peka Christova, Jasmine Joseph, Apostolos P. Georgopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Here we report on the heritability and Intraclass Correlation Coefficients (ICCs) of brain volumes in 1,103 young healthy adults with mean age 29.2 years. Among them are: 153 monozygotic (MZ) twin pairs and 86 dizygotic (DZ) twin pairs, 133 non-twin siblings of MZ twins, 76 non-twin siblings of DZ twins, 335 siblings, and 81 unrelated individuals. ICCs were calculated between pairs of the following genetic groups: (1) MZ twins; (2) DZ twins; (3) MZ twins—their singleton siblings; (4) DZ twins—their singleton siblings; (5) siblings (SB); and (6) unrelated individuals (NR). We studied 4 brain groups: global, lobar, subcortical, and cortical brain regions. For each of 4 brain groups we found the same order of ICCs ranging from the highest values for MZ twins, statistically significantly smaller for the DZ twins and 3 sibling groups, and practically zero for NR. The DZ twins and 3 sibling groups were not different. No hemispheric difference was found in any genetic group. Among brain groups, the highest heritability was for the global regions, followed by lobar and subcortical groups. Only the cortical brain group heritability was statistically lower than other brain groups. We found less genetic control on the left hemisphere than on the right but no significant difference between hemispheres, and no hemispheric lateralization of heritability for any of the brain groups. These findings document substantial and systematic heritability of global and regional brain volumes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1273-1286
Number of pages14
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number4
Early online dateFeb 21 2021
StatePublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Data were provided by the Human Connectome Project, WU-Minn Consortium (Principal Investigators: David Van Essen and Kamil Ugurbil; 1U54MH091657) funded by the 16 NIH Institutes and Centers that support the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research; and by the McDonnell Center for Systems Neuroscience at Washington University.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, This is a U.S. government work and not under copyright protection in the U.S.; foreign copyright protection may apply.


  • Cortical
  • Dizygotic twins
  • Global
  • Monozygotic
  • Subcortical brain volumes

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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