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Heritability of hippocampal functional and microstructural organisation

By ┼×eyma Bayrak, Reinder Vos de Wael, H. Lina Schaare, Meike Dorothee Hettwer, Benoit Caldairou, Andrea Bernasconi, Neda Bernasconi, Boris C. Bernhardt, Sofie L. Valk

Posted 11 Nov 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.11.10.468049

The hippocampus is a uniquely infolded allocortical structure in the medial temporal lobe that consists of the microstructurally and functionally distinct subregions: subiculum, cornu ammonis, and dentate gyrus. The hippocampus is a remarkably plastic region that is implicated in learning and memory. At the same time it has been shown that hippocampal subregion volumes are heritable, and that genetic expression varies along a posterior to anterior axis. Here, we studied how a heritable, stable, hippocampal organisation may support its flexible function in healthy adults. Leveraging the twin set-up of the Human Connectome Project with multimodal neuroimaging, we observed that the functional connectivity between hippocampus and cortex was heritable and that microstructure of the hippocampus genetically correlated with cortical microstructure. Moreover, both functional and microstructural organisation could be consistently captured by anterior-to-posterior and medial-to-lateral axes across individuals. However, heritability of functional, relative to microstructural, organisation was found reduced, suggesting individual variation in functional organisation of subfields is under low genetic control. Last, we demonstrate that structure and function couple along its genetic axes, suggesting an interplay of stability and plasticity within the hippocampus. Our study provides new insights on the heritability of the hippocampal formation and illustrates how genetic axes may scaffold hippocampal structure and function.

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