Genetic and Environmental Influences on EEG Coherence

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Abstract

EEG coherence measures the covariation in electrical brain activity between two locations on the scalp and is used to study connectivity between cortical regions. The aim of this study was to determine the heritability of EEG coherence. Coherence was measured in a group of 213 16-yr-old twin pairs. By including male and female twin pairs in the sample, sex differences in genetic architecture were systematically examined. The EEG was obtained during quiet supine resting. Coherence was estimated for short and long distance combinations of electrode pairs along the anterior-posterior axis within a hemisphere for four frequency bands (delta, theta, alpha and beta). Averaged over all electrode combinations about 60% of the variance was explained by genetic factors for coherence in the theta, alpha and beta bands. For the delta band, the heritability was somewhat lower. No systematic sex differences in genetic architecture were found. All environmental influences were nonshared, i.e., unique factors including measurement error. Environmental factors shared by twin siblings did not influence variation in EEG coherence. These results suggest that individual differences in coherence form a potential candidate for (molecular) genetic studies on brain function.

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