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Predicting cognitive and mental health traits and their polygenic architecture using large-scale brain connectomics

By Luigi A. Maglanoc, Tobias Kaufmann, Dennis van der Meer, Andre F. Marquand, Thomas Wolfers, Rune Jonassen, Eva Hilland, Ole A Andreassen, Nils Inge Landrø, Lars T. Westlye

Posted 16 Apr 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/609586 (published DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2019.10.011)

Cognitive abilities and mental disorders are complex traits sharing a largely unknown neuronal basis and aetiology. Their genetic architectures are highly polygenic and overlapping, which is supported by heterogeneous phenotypic expression and substantial clinical overlap. Brain network analysis provides a non-invasive means of dissecting biological heterogeneity yet its sensitivity, specificity and validity in clinical applications remains a major challenge. We used machine learning on static and dynamic temporal synchronization between all brain network nodes in 10,343 healthy individuals from the UK Biobank to predict (i) cognitive and mental health traits and (ii) their genetic underpinnings. We predicted age and sex to serve as our reference point. The traits of interest included individual level educational attainment and fluid intelligence (cognitive) and dimensional measures of depression, anxiety, and neuroticism (mental health). We predicted polygenic scores for educational attainment, fluid intelligence, depression, anxiety, and different neuroticism traits, in addition to schizophrenia. Beyond high accuracy for age and sex, permutation tests revealed above chance-level prediction accuracy for educational attainment and fluid intelligence. Educational attainment and fluid intelligence were mainly negatively associated with static brain connectivity in frontal and default mode networks, whereas age showed positive correlations with a more widespread pattern. In comparison, prediction accuracy for polygenic scores was at chance level across traits, which may serve as a benchmark for future studies aiming to link genetic factors and fMRI-based brain connectomics.

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