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Giles Colclough and Mark Woolrich investigate the relative importance of genetic factors and environment between twins to determine functional connectivity in human brain activity.

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In a study, recently published in eLIFE, ‘The heritability of multi-modal connectivity in human brain activity’ Dr Giles Colclough and Professor Mark Woolrich from the Department of Psychiatry discover that nature takes precedence over nurture in how are brains are networked.
 
Professor Woolrich explains: 
 
“The brain works by coordinating communication across networks of different brain areas. Interestingly, the configuration of these brain networks varies a lot between different individuals, and these differences have been shown to relate to behaviour.  In this work, we used imaging of the brain's activity in twins to examine the overall role of genetics in explaining these differences. Comparisons between identical twins and non-identical twins allows us to tease apart the degree of genetic and environmental influence on the form of the brain networks." 
We found that genetics plays the larger role, by substantially exceeding the contribution from the environment shared between twins, demonstrating the greater importance of nature over nurture in terms of how the brain coordinates its activity across different brain regions.
- Professor Mark Woolrich


The research was carried out at the Oxford Centre for Human Brain Activity (OHBA) which is part of the Wellcome Centre for Intergrative Neuroscience (WIN), and the data used in the study was taken from the Human Connectome Project.