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Approved research

Understanding the genetic architecture of human brain shape from MRI using global-to-local shape segmentations

Principal Investigator: Dr Peter Claes
Approved Research ID: 43193
Approval date: October 15th 2018

Lay summary

Our highly evolved brain is the key feature that defines the human species, allowing us to be innovative and creative. The human brain is a complex and multipartite trait composed of distinct tissues (grey and white matter, CSF) and diverse anatomical as well as functional regions that are influenced by molecular and environmental factors. The anatomical composition of the brain can be captured using structural Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), enabling the investigation of variations in brain shape. In this project we aim to investigate these brain shape variations in the context of related genetic variations on a large cohort present in the UK Biobank. A key aspect of the project is the segmentation of the human brain into different regions from a global (whole brain)-to-local (smaller parts) perspective. This provides a divide and conquer strategy with increased power to unravel the genetic architecture of normal-range brain structure. The outcome provides an important stepping stone, for future investigations to better understand the genetic influences in brain development, ageing as well as neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's Disease and early onset dementia.