Publications by authors named "Thomas Espeseth"

103 Publications

Identification of pleiotropy at the gene level between psychiatric disorders and related traits.

Transl Psychiatry 2021 07 29;11(1):410. Epub 2021 Jul 29.

NORMENT, Department of Clinical Science, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.

Major mental disorders are highly prevalent and make a substantial contribution to the global disease burden. It is known that mental disorders share clinical characteristics, and genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have recently provided evidence for shared genetic factors as well. Genetic overlaps are usually identified at the single-marker level. Here, we aimed to identify genetic overlaps at the gene level between 7 mental disorders (schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorder, major depressive disorder, anorexia nervosa, ADHD, bipolar disorder and anxiety), 8 brain morphometric traits, 2 cognitive traits (educational attainment and general cognitive function) and 9 personality traits (subjective well-being, depressive symptoms, neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness and conscientiousness, children's aggressive behaviour, loneliness) based on publicly available GWASs. We performed systematic conditional regression analyses to identify independent signals and select loci associated with more than one trait. We identified 48 genes containing independent markers associated with several traits (pleiotropy at the gene level). We also report 9 genes with different markers that show independent associations with single traits (allelic heterogeneity). This study demonstrates that mental disorders and related traits do show pleiotropy at the gene level as well as the single-marker level. The identification of these genes might be important for prioritizing further deep genotyping, functional studies, or drug targeting.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41398-021-01530-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8322263PMC
July 2021

Functional connectivity in multiple sclerosis modelled as connectome stability: A 5-year follow-up study.

Mult Scler 2021 Jul 14:13524585211030212. Epub 2021 Jul 14.

NORMENT, Division of Mental Health and Addiction, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway; Bjørknes College, Oslo, Norway.

Background: Brain functional connectivity (FC) in multiple sclerosis (MS) is abnormal compared to healthy controls (HCs). More longitudinal studies in MS are needed to evaluate whether FC stability is clinically relevant.

Objective: To compare functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)-based FC between MS and HC, and to determine the relationship between longitudinal FC changes and structural brain damage, cognitive performance and physical disability.

Methods: T1-weighted MPRAGE and resting-state fMRI (1.5T) were acquired from 70 relapsing-remitting MS patients and 94 matched HC at baseline (mean months since diagnosis 14.0 ± 11) and from 60 MS patients after 5 years. Independent component analysis and network modelling were used to measure longitudinal FC stability and cross-sectional comparisons with HC. Linear mixed models, adjusted for age and sex, were used to calculate correlations.

Results: At baseline, patients with MS showed FC abnormalities both within networks and in single connections compared to HC. Longitudinal analyses revealed functional stability and no significant relationships with clinical disability, cognitive performance, lesion or brain volume.

Conclusion: FC abnormalities occur already at the first decade of MS, yet we found no relevant clinical correlations for these network deviations. Future large-scale longitudinal fMRI studies across a range of MS subtypes and outcomes are required.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/13524585211030212DOI Listing
July 2021

Identifying nootropic drug targets via large-scale cognitive GWAS and transcriptomics.

Neuropsychopharmacology 2021 09 25;46(10):1788-1801. Epub 2021 May 25.

Department of Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, USA.

Broad-based cognitive deficits are an enduring and disabling symptom for many patients with severe mental illness, and these impairments are inadequately addressed by current medications. While novel drug targets for schizophrenia and depression have emerged from recent large-scale genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of these psychiatric disorders, GWAS of general cognitive ability can suggest potential targets for nootropic drug repurposing. Here, we (1) meta-analyze results from two recent cognitive GWAS to further enhance power for locus discovery; (2) employ several complementary transcriptomic methods to identify genes in these loci that are credibly associated with cognition; and (3) further annotate the resulting genes using multiple chemoinformatic databases to identify "druggable" targets. Using our meta-analytic data set (N = 373,617), we identified 241 independent cognition-associated loci (29 novel), and 76 genes were identified by 2 or more methods of gene identification. Actin and chromatin binding gene sets were identified as novel pathways that could be targeted via drug repurposing. Leveraging our transcriptomic and chemoinformatic databases, we identified 16 putative genes targeted by existing drugs potentially available for cognitive repurposing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41386-021-01023-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8357785PMC
September 2021

1q21.1 distal copy number variants are associated with cerebral and cognitive alterations in humans.

Transl Psychiatry 2021 03 22;11(1):182. Epub 2021 Mar 22.

Department of Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London, London, United Kingdom.

Low-frequency 1q21.1 distal deletion and duplication copy number variant (CNV) carriers are predisposed to multiple neurodevelopmental disorders, including schizophrenia, autism and intellectual disability. Human carriers display a high prevalence of micro- and macrocephaly in deletion and duplication carriers, respectively. The underlying brain structural diversity remains largely unknown. We systematically called CNVs in 38 cohorts from the large-scale ENIGMA-CNV collaboration and the UK Biobank and identified 28 1q21.1 distal deletion and 22 duplication carriers and 37,088 non-carriers (48% male) derived from 15 distinct magnetic resonance imaging scanner sites. With standardized methods, we compared subcortical and cortical brain measures (all) and cognitive performance (UK Biobank only) between carrier groups also testing for mediation of brain structure on cognition. We identified positive dosage effects of copy number on intracranial volume (ICV) and total cortical surface area, with the largest effects in frontal and cingulate cortices, and negative dosage effects on caudate and hippocampal volumes. The carriers displayed distinct cognitive deficit profiles in cognitive tasks from the UK Biobank with intermediate decreases in duplication carriers and somewhat larger in deletion carriers-the latter potentially mediated by ICV or cortical surface area. These results shed light on pathobiological mechanisms of neurodevelopmental disorders, by demonstrating gene dose effect on specific brain structures and effect on cognitive function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41398-021-01213-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7985307PMC
March 2021

Development of attention networks from childhood to young adulthood: A study of performance, intraindividual variability and cortical thickness.

Cortex 2021 05 13;138:138-151. Epub 2021 Feb 13.

PROMENTA Research Center, Department of Psychology, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway; NORMENT, Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway; Department of Psychiatric Research, Diakonhjemmet Hospital, Oslo, Norway.

Human cognitive development is manifold, with different functions developing at different speeds at different ages. Attention is an important domain of this cognitive development, and involves distinct developmental trajectories for separate functions, including conflict processing, selection of sensory input and alertness. In children, several studies using the Attention Network Test (ANT) have investigated the development of three attentional networks that carry out the functions of executive control, orienting and alerting. There is, however, a lack of studies on the development of these attentional components across adolescence, limiting our understanding of their protracted development. To fill this knowledge gap, we performed a mixed cross-sectional and longitudinal study using mixed methods to examine the development of the attentional components and their intraindividual variability from late childhood to young adulthood (n = 287, n observations = 408, age range = 8.5-26.7 years, mean follow up interval = 4.4 years). The results indicated that executive control stabilized during late adolescence, while orienting and alerting continued to develop into young adulthood. In addition, a continuous development into young adulthood was observed for the intraindividual variability measures of orienting and alerting. In a subsample with available magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data (n = 169, n observations = 281), higher alerting scores were associated with thicker cortices within a right prefrontal cortical region and greater age-related cortical thinning in left rolandic operculum, while higher orienting scores were associated with greater age-related cortical thinning in frontal and parietal regions. Finally, increased consistency of orienting performance was associated with thinner cortex in prefrontal regions and reduced age-related thinning in frontal regions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2021.01.018DOI Listing
May 2021

Effects of copy number variations on brain structure and risk for psychiatric illness: Large-scale studies from the ENIGMA working groups on CNVs.

Hum Brain Mapp 2021 Feb 21. Epub 2021 Feb 21.

Center for Neuroimaging, Genetics and Genomics, School of Psychology, NUI Galway, Galway, Ireland.

The Enhancing NeuroImaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis copy number variant (ENIGMA-CNV) and 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome Working Groups (22q-ENIGMA WGs) were created to gain insight into the involvement of genetic factors in human brain development and related cognitive, psychiatric and behavioral manifestations. To that end, the ENIGMA-CNV WG has collated CNV and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data from ~49,000 individuals across 38 global research sites, yielding one of the largest studies to date on the effects of CNVs on brain structures in the general population. The 22q-ENIGMA WG includes 12 international research centers that assessed over 533 individuals with a confirmed 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, 40 with 22q11.2 duplications, and 333 typically developing controls, creating the largest-ever 22q11.2 CNV neuroimaging data set. In this review, we outline the ENIGMA infrastructure and procedures for multi-site analysis of CNVs and MRI data. So far, ENIGMA has identified effects of the 22q11.2, 16p11.2 distal, 15q11.2, and 1q21.1 distal CNVs on subcortical and cortical brain structures. Each CNV is associated with differences in cognitive, neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric traits, with characteristic patterns of brain structural abnormalities. Evidence of gene-dosage effects on distinct brain regions also emerged, providing further insight into genotype-phenotype relationships. Taken together, these results offer a more comprehensive picture of molecular mechanisms involved in typical and atypical brain development. This "genotype-first" approach also contributes to our understanding of the etiopathogenesis of brain disorders. Finally, we outline future directions to better understand effects of CNVs on brain structure and behavior.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hbm.25354DOI Listing
February 2021

Cortical thickness across the lifespan: Data from 17,075 healthy individuals aged 3-90 years.

Hum Brain Mapp 2021 Feb 17. Epub 2021 Feb 17.

Laboratory of Psychiatric Neuroimaging, Departamento e Instituto de Psiquiatria, Hospital das Clinicas HCFMUSP, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.

Delineating the association of age and cortical thickness in healthy individuals is critical given the association of cortical thickness with cognition and behavior. Previous research has shown that robust estimates of the association between age and brain morphometry require large-scale studies. In response, we used cross-sectional data from 17,075 individuals aged 3-90 years from the Enhancing Neuroimaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis (ENIGMA) Consortium to infer age-related changes in cortical thickness. We used fractional polynomial (FP) regression to quantify the association between age and cortical thickness, and we computed normalized growth centiles using the parametric Lambda, Mu, and Sigma method. Interindividual variability was estimated using meta-analysis and one-way analysis of variance. For most regions, their highest cortical thickness value was observed in childhood. Age and cortical thickness showed a negative association; the slope was steeper up to the third decade of life and more gradual thereafter; notable exceptions to this general pattern were entorhinal, temporopolar, and anterior cingulate cortices. Interindividual variability was largest in temporal and frontal regions across the lifespan. Age and its FP combinations explained up to 59% variance in cortical thickness. These results may form the basis of further investigation on normative deviation in cortical thickness and its significance for behavioral and cognitive outcomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hbm.25364DOI Listing
February 2021

Subcortical volumes across the lifespan: Data from 18,605 healthy individuals aged 3-90 years.

Hum Brain Mapp 2021 Feb 11. Epub 2021 Feb 11.

Department of Psychology, Center for Brain Science, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

Age has a major effect on brain volume. However, the normative studies available are constrained by small sample sizes, restricted age coverage and significant methodological variability. These limitations introduce inconsistencies and may obscure or distort the lifespan trajectories of brain morphometry. In response, we capitalized on the resources of the Enhancing Neuroimaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis (ENIGMA) Consortium to examine age-related trajectories inferred from cross-sectional measures of the ventricles, the basal ganglia (caudate, putamen, pallidum, and nucleus accumbens), the thalamus, hippocampus and amygdala using magnetic resonance imaging data obtained from 18,605 individuals aged 3-90 years. All subcortical structure volumes were at their maximum value early in life. The volume of the basal ganglia showed a monotonic negative association with age thereafter; there was no significant association between age and the volumes of the thalamus, amygdala and the hippocampus (with some degree of decline in thalamus) until the sixth decade of life after which they also showed a steep negative association with age. The lateral ventricles showed continuous enlargement throughout the lifespan. Age was positively associated with inter-individual variability in the hippocampus and amygdala and the lateral ventricles. These results were robust to potential confounders and could be used to examine the functional significance of deviations from typical age-related morphometric patterns.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hbm.25320DOI Listing
February 2021

Uncovering the locus coeruleus: Comparison of localization methods for functional analysis.

Neuroimage 2021 01 1;224:117409. Epub 2020 Oct 1.

Department of Psychology, University of Oslo, Postboks 1094, Blindern, 0317 Oslo, Norway; Bjørknes College, Lovisenberggata 13, 0456 Oslo, Norway.

Functional neuroimaging of small brainstem structures in humans is gaining interest due to their potential importance in aging and many clinical conditions. Researchers have used different methods to measure activity in the locus coeruleus (LC), the main noradrenergic nucleus in the brain. However, the extent to which these different LC localization methods yield similar results is unclear. In the present article, we compared four different approaches to estimate localization of the LC in a large sample (N = 98): 1) a probabilistic map from a previous study, 2) masks segmented from neuromelanin-sensitive scans, both manually and semi-automatically, 3) components from a masked-independent components analysis of the functional data, and 4) a mask from pupil regression of the functional data. The four methods have all been used previously in the imaging community to localize the LC in vivo in humans. We report several measures of similarity between the LC masks obtained from the different methods. In addition, we compare functional connectivity maps obtained from the different masks. We conclude that sample-specific masks appear more suitable than masks obtained from an independent sample, that masks based on structural versus functional methods may capture different portions of LC, and that, at the group level, the creation of a "consensus" mask using more than one approach may give a better estimate of LC localization.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2020.117409DOI Listing
January 2021

The effects of cognitive abilities and task demands on tonic and phasic pupil sizes.

Biol Psychol 2020 10 1;156:107945. Epub 2020 Sep 1.

Department of Psychology, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway; Bjørknes College, Lovisenberggata 13, 0456 Oslo, Norway.

Previous studies on individual differences in pupil size of healthy individuals and their relation to performance have been inconclusive. Using a novel approach, we tested the effect of general cognitive abilities and level of task performance on pretrial baseline and task-evoked pupil (TEP) sizes (N = 116) while we manipulated the level of task demands using a multiple object tracking task. Results did not reveal an effect of general cognitive abilities, estimated by working memory capacity and gF scores, on either baseline or TEP sizes. In contrast, we found an interaction in TEP sizes between level of overall MOT performance and task demands. We propose that individual differences in TEP sizes are related to state-specific level of task performance and task demands, probably in combination with other factors like age, personality traits, and state-specific level of motivation and arousal. We also suggest methodological confounds that may cause the previous inconclusive findings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2020.107945DOI Listing
October 2020

The genetic architecture of human brainstem structures and their involvement in common brain disorders.

Nat Commun 2020 08 11;11(1):4016. Epub 2020 Aug 11.

Department of Neuromedicine and Movement Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway.

Brainstem regions support vital bodily functions, yet their genetic architectures and involvement in common brain disorders remain understudied. Here, using imaging-genetics data from a discovery sample of 27,034 individuals, we identify 45 brainstem-associated genetic loci, including the first linked to midbrain, pons, and medulla oblongata volumes, and map them to 305 genes. In a replication sample of 7432 participants most of the loci show the same effect direction and are significant at a nominal threshold. We detect genetic overlap between brainstem volumes and eight psychiatric and neurological disorders. In additional clinical data from 5062 individuals with common brain disorders and 11,257 healthy controls, we observe differential volume alterations in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, multiple sclerosis, mild cognitive impairment, dementia, and Parkinson's disease, supporting the relevance of brainstem regions and their genetic architectures in common brain disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-17376-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7421944PMC
August 2020

The role of norepinephrine in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia.

Neurosci Biobehav Rev 2020 11 5;118:298-314. Epub 2020 Aug 5.

Department of Psychology, University of Oslo, Postboks 1094, Blindern, 0317 Oslo, Norway; Bjørknes College, Lovisenberggata 13, 0456 Oslo, Norway.

Several lines of evidence have suggested for decades a role for norepinephrine (NE) in the pathophysiology and treatment of schizophrenia. Recent experimental findings reveal anatomical and physiological properties of the locus coeruleus-norepinephrine (LC-NE) system and its involvement in brain function and cognition. Here, we integrate these two lines of evidence. First, we review the functional and structural properties of the LC-NE system and its impact on functional brain networks, cognition, and stress, with special emphasis on recent experimental and theoretical advances. Subsequently, we present an update about the role of LC-associated functions for the pathophysiology of schizophrenia, focusing on the cognitive and motivational deficits. We propose that schizophrenia phenomenology, in particular cognitive symptoms, may be explained by an abnormal interaction between genetic susceptibility and stress-initiated LC-NE dysfunction. This in turn, leads to imbalance between LC activity modes, dysfunctional regulation of brain network integration and neural gain, and deficits in cognitive functions. Finally, we suggest how recent development of experimental approaches can be used to characterize LC function in schizophrenia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2020.07.038DOI Listing
November 2020

Pupillary and behavioral markers of alerting and orienting: An individual difference approach.

Brain Cogn 2020 08 14;143:105597. Epub 2020 Jul 14.

Department of Psychology, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.

Measuring task-evoked pupillary (TEP) responses as an index of phasic activity in the locus coeruleus (LC), we examined two competing hypotheses regarding the alerting and orienting mechanisms of attention. According to a dual mechanism account (Fernandez-Duque & Posner, 1997), two separate noradrenergic and cholinergic mechanisms modulate, respectively, the alerting and orienting effects. However, Corbetta and colleagues (2008) proposed that LC phasic activity may also be involved in orienting effect through its functional relationship with the ventral attentional network. We recruited seventy-five healthy Norwegian participants to perform a Posner cueing task. Both behavioral and pupillary responses revealed the alerting effect. Also, both behavioral and pupillary responses indicated that cued attention is affected by age. Behavioral responses also revealed orienting effect However, we found no TEP differences between valid, invalid, and neutral conditions, suggesting that TEP effects were driven by the alerting effect of cue presentation. Moreover, both behavioral and pupillary estimates of alertness and orienting were uncorrelated. Finally, individual differences in general cognitive abilities did not appear to affect the orienting and alerting mechanisms. This pattern of results is consistent with the dual mechanism account of attention. However, the LC involvement in the (re)orienting attention may be driven by state-specific factors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bandc.2020.105597DOI Listing
August 2020

The genetic architecture of the human cerebral cortex.

Science 2020 03;367(6484)

The cerebral cortex underlies our complex cognitive capabilities, yet little is known about the specific genetic loci that influence human cortical structure. To identify genetic variants that affect cortical structure, we conducted a genome-wide association meta-analysis of brain magnetic resonance imaging data from 51,665 individuals. We analyzed the surface area and average thickness of the whole cortex and 34 regions with known functional specializations. We identified 199 significant loci and found significant enrichment for loci influencing total surface area within regulatory elements that are active during prenatal cortical development, supporting the radial unit hypothesis. Loci that affect regional surface area cluster near genes in Wnt signaling pathways, which influence progenitor expansion and areal identity. Variation in cortical structure is genetically correlated with cognitive function, Parkinson's disease, insomnia, depression, neuroticism, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aay6690DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7295264PMC
March 2020

Genetic control of variability in subcortical and intracranial volumes.

Mol Psychiatry 2020 Feb 11. Epub 2020 Feb 11.

NORMENT, Division of Mental Health and Addiction, Oslo University Hospital & Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.

Sensitivity to external demands is essential for adaptation to dynamic environments, but comes at the cost of increased risk of adverse outcomes when facing poor environmental conditions. Here, we apply a novel methodology to perform genome-wide association analysis of mean and variance in ten key brain features (accumbens, amygdala, caudate, hippocampus, pallidum, putamen, thalamus, intracranial volume, cortical surface area, and cortical thickness), integrating genetic and neuroanatomical data from a large lifespan sample (n = 25,575 individuals; 8-89 years, mean age 51.9 years). We identify genetic loci associated with phenotypic variability in thalamus volume and cortical thickness. The variance-controlling loci involved genes with a documented role in brain and mental health and were not associated with the mean anatomical volumes. This proof-of-principle of the hypothesis of a genetic regulation of brain volume variability contributes to establishing the genetic basis of phenotypic variance (i.e., heritability), allows identifying different degrees of brain robustness across individuals, and opens new research avenues in the search for mechanisms controlling brain and mental health.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41380-020-0664-1DOI Listing
February 2020

Association of Copy Number Variation of the 15q11.2 BP1-BP2 Region With Cortical and Subcortical Morphology and Cognition.

JAMA Psychiatry 2020 04;77(4):420-430

Department of Biological Psychology and Netherlands Twin Register, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Importance: Recurrent microdeletions and duplications in the genomic region 15q11.2 between breakpoints 1 (BP1) and 2 (BP2) are associated with neurodevelopmental disorders. These structural variants are present in 0.5% to 1.0% of the population, making 15q11.2 BP1-BP2 the site of the most prevalent known pathogenic copy number variation (CNV). It is unknown to what extent this CNV influences brain structure and affects cognitive abilities.

Objective: To determine the association of the 15q11.2 BP1-BP2 deletion and duplication CNVs with cortical and subcortical brain morphology and cognitive task performance.

Design, Setting, And Participants: In this genetic association study, T1-weighted brain magnetic resonance imaging were combined with genetic data from the ENIGMA-CNV consortium and the UK Biobank, with a replication cohort from Iceland. In total, 203 deletion carriers, 45 247 noncarriers, and 306 duplication carriers were included. Data were collected from August 2015 to April 2019, and data were analyzed from September 2018 to September 2019.

Main Outcomes And Measures: The associations of the CNV with global and regional measures of surface area and cortical thickness as well as subcortical volumes were investigated, correcting for age, age2, sex, scanner, and intracranial volume. Additionally, measures of cognitive ability were analyzed in the full UK Biobank cohort.

Results: Of 45 756 included individuals, the mean (SD) age was 55.8 (18.3) years, and 23 754 (51.9%) were female. Compared with noncarriers, deletion carriers had a lower surface area (Cohen d = -0.41; SE, 0.08; P = 4.9 × 10-8), thicker cortex (Cohen d = 0.36; SE, 0.07; P = 1.3 × 10-7), and a smaller nucleus accumbens (Cohen d = -0.27; SE, 0.07; P = 7.3 × 10-5). There was also a significant negative dose response on cortical thickness (β = -0.24; SE, 0.05; P = 6.8 × 10-7). Regional cortical analyses showed a localization of the effects to the frontal, cingulate, and parietal lobes. Further, cognitive ability was lower for deletion carriers compared with noncarriers on 5 of 7 tasks.

Conclusions And Relevance: These findings, from the largest CNV neuroimaging study to date, provide evidence that 15q11.2 BP1-BP2 structural variation is associated with brain morphology and cognition, with deletion carriers being particularly affected. The pattern of results fits with known molecular functions of genes in the 15q11.2 BP1-BP2 region and suggests involvement of these genes in neuronal plasticity. These neurobiological effects likely contribute to the association of this CNV with neurodevelopmental disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.3779DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6822096PMC
April 2020

Genetic architecture of subcortical brain structures in 38,851 individuals.

Nat Genet 2019 11 21;51(11):1624-1636. Epub 2019 Oct 21.

Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN, USA.

Subcortical brain structures are integral to motion, consciousness, emotions and learning. We identified common genetic variation related to the volumes of the nucleus accumbens, amygdala, brainstem, caudate nucleus, globus pallidus, putamen and thalamus, using genome-wide association analyses in almost 40,000 individuals from CHARGE, ENIGMA and UK Biobank. We show that variability in subcortical volumes is heritable, and identify 48 significantly associated loci (40 novel at the time of analysis). Annotation of these loci by utilizing gene expression, methylation and neuropathological data identified 199 genes putatively implicated in neurodevelopment, synaptic signaling, axonal transport, apoptosis, inflammation/infection and susceptibility to neurological disorders. This set of genes is significantly enriched for Drosophila orthologs associated with neurodevelopmental phenotypes, suggesting evolutionarily conserved mechanisms. Our findings uncover novel biology and potential drug targets underlying brain development and disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-019-0511-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7055269PMC
November 2019

Distinct Neural Mechanisms Meet Challenges in Dynamic Visual Attention due to Either Load or Object Spacing.

J Cogn Neurosci 2020 01 27;32(1):65-84. Epub 2019 Sep 27.

University of Oslo.

When engaged in dynamic visuospatial tasks, the brain copes with perceptual and cognitive processing challenges. During multiple-object tracking (MOT), the number of objects to be tracked (i.e., load) imposes attentional demands, but so does spatial interference from irrelevant objects (i.e., close encounters). Presently, it is not clear whether the effect of load on accuracy solely depends on the number of close encounters. If so, the same cognitive and physiological mechanisms deal with increasing load by preparing for and dealing with spatial interference. However, this has never been directly tested. Such knowledge is important to understand the neurophysiology of dynamic visual attention and resolve conflicting views within visual cognition concerning sources of capacity limitations. We varied the processing challenge in MOT task in two ways: the number of targets and the minimum spatial proximity between targets and distractors. In a first experiment, we measured task-induced pupil dilations and saccades during MOT. In a separate cohort, we measured fMRI activity. In both cohorts, increased load and close encounters (i.e., close spatial proximity) led to reduced accuracy in an additive manner. Load was associated with pupil dilations, whereas close encounters were not. Activity in dorsal attentional areas and frequency of saccades were proportionally larger both with higher levels of load and close encounters. Close encounters recruited additionally ventral attentional areas that may reflect orienting mechanisms. The activity in two brainstem nuclei, ventral tegmental area/substantia nigra and locus coeruleus, showed clearly dissociated patterns. Our results constitute convergent evidence indicating that different mechanisms underlie processing challenges due to load and object spacing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1162/jocn_a_01469DOI Listing
January 2020

Common brain disorders are associated with heritable patterns of apparent aging of the brain.

Nat Neurosci 2019 10 24;22(10):1617-1623. Epub 2019 Sep 24.

Centre for Psychiatry Research, Department of Clinical Neuroscience Karolinska Institutet & Stockholm Health Care Services, Stockholm County Council, Stockholm, Sweden.

Common risk factors for psychiatric and other brain disorders are likely to converge on biological pathways influencing the development and maintenance of brain structure and function across life. Using structural MRI data from 45,615 individuals aged 3-96 years, we demonstrate distinct patterns of apparent brain aging in several brain disorders and reveal genetic pleiotropy between apparent brain aging in healthy individuals and common brain disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41593-019-0471-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6823048PMC
October 2019

Pleiotropic Meta-Analysis of Cognition, Education, and Schizophrenia Differentiates Roles of Early Neurodevelopmental and Adult Synaptic Pathways.

Am J Hum Genet 2019 08;105(2):334-350

Centre for Epidemiology, Division of Population Health, Health Services Research and Primary Care, University of Manchester, Manchester M139PL, United Kingdom; School of Healthcare Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester M15 6BH, United Kingdom.

Susceptibility to schizophrenia is inversely correlated with general cognitive ability at both the phenotypic and the genetic level. Paradoxically, a modest but consistent positive genetic correlation has been reported between schizophrenia and educational attainment, despite the strong positive genetic correlation between cognitive ability and educational attainment. Here we leverage published genome-wide association studies (GWASs) in cognitive ability, education, and schizophrenia to parse biological mechanisms underlying these results. Association analysis based on subsets (ASSET), a pleiotropic meta-analytic technique, allowed jointly associated loci to be identified and characterized. Specifically, we identified subsets of variants associated in the expected ("concordant") direction across all three phenotypes (i.e., greater risk for schizophrenia, lower cognitive ability, and lower educational attainment); these were contrasted with variants that demonstrated the counterintuitive ("discordant") relationship between education and schizophrenia (i.e., greater risk for schizophrenia and higher educational attainment). ASSET analysis revealed 235 independent loci associated with cognitive ability, education, and/or schizophrenia at p < 5 × 10. Pleiotropic analysis successfully identified more than 100 loci that were not significant in the input GWASs. Many of these have been validated by larger, more recent single-phenotype GWASs. Leveraging the joint genetic correlations of cognitive ability, education, and schizophrenia, we were able to dissociate two distinct biological mechanisms-early neurodevelopmental pathways that characterize concordant allelic variation and adulthood synaptic pruning pathways-that were linked to the paradoxical positive genetic association between education and schizophrenia. Furthermore, genetic correlation analyses revealed that these mechanisms contribute not only to the etiopathogenesis of schizophrenia but also to the broader biological dimensions implicated in both general health outcomes and psychiatric illness.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2019.06.012DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6699140PMC
August 2019

The Relationship Between Polygenic Risk Scores and Cognition in Schizophrenia.

Schizophr Bull 2020 02;46(2):336-344

Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London, London, UK.

Background: Cognitive impairment is a clinically important feature of schizophrenia. Polygenic risk score (PRS) methods have demonstrated genetic overlap between schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (BD), major depressive disorder (MDD), educational attainment (EA), and IQ, but very few studies have examined associations between these PRS and cognitive phenotypes within schizophrenia cases.

Methods: We combined genetic and cognitive data in 3034 schizophrenia cases from 11 samples using the general intelligence factor g as the primary measure of cognition. We used linear regression to examine the association between cognition and PRS for EA, IQ, schizophrenia, BD, and MDD. The results were then meta-analyzed across all samples. A genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of cognition was conducted in schizophrenia cases.

Results: PRS for both population IQ (P = 4.39 × 10-28) and EA (P = 1.27 × 10-26) were positively correlated with cognition in those with schizophrenia. In contrast, there was no association between cognition in schizophrenia cases and PRS for schizophrenia (P = .39), BD (P = .51), or MDD (P = .49). No individual variant approached genome-wide significance in the GWAS.

Conclusions: Cognition in schizophrenia cases is more strongly associated with PRS that index cognitive traits in the general population than PRS for neuropsychiatric disorders. This suggests the mechanisms of cognitive variation within schizophrenia are at least partly independent from those that predispose to schizophrenia diagnosis itself. Our findings indicate that this cognitive variation arises at least in part due to genetic factors shared with cognitive performance in populations and is not solely due to illness or treatment-related factors, although our findings are consistent with important contributions from these factors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/schbul/sbz061DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7442352PMC
February 2020

Author Correction: Study of 300,486 individuals identifies 148 independent genetic loci influencing general cognitive function.

Nat Commun 2019 May 1;10(1):2068. Epub 2019 May 1.

Department of Psychology and Logopedics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, 00014, Finland.

Christina M. Lill, who contributed to analysis of data, was inadvertently omitted from the author list in the originally published version of this article. This has now been corrected in both the PDF and HTML versions of the article.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-10160-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6494826PMC
May 2019

Individual differences in resting-state pupil size: Evidence for association between working memory capacity and pupil size variability.

Int J Psychophysiol 2019 06 17;140:1-7. Epub 2019 Mar 17.

Department of Psychology, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway; CoE NORMENT, KG Jebsen Centre for Psychosis Research, Division of Mental Health and Addiction, Oslo University Hospital, Norway.

Dynamic non-luminance-mediated changes in pupil diameter have frequently been shown to be a reliable index for the level of arousal, mental effort, and activity in the locus coeruleus, the brainstem's noradrenergic arousal center. While pupillometry has most commonly been used to assess the level of arousal in particular psychological states or the level of engagement in cognitive tasks, some recent studies have found a relationship between average resting-state (i.e. baseline) pupil sizes and individuals' working memory capacity (WMC), indicating that individuals with higher WMC on average have larger pupils than individuals with relatively lower WMC. In the present study, we measured pupil size continuously in 212 participants during rest (i.e. while fixating) and estimated WMC in all participants by administering the Letter-Number Sequencing (LNS) task from WAIS-III. We were unable to replicate the relation between average pupil size and WMC. However, the novel finding was that higher WMC was associated with higher variability in resting-state pupil size. The present results are relevant for the current debate on the role of noradrenergic activity on working memory capacity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2019.03.007DOI Listing
June 2019

Correction to: Task context load induces reactive cognitive control: An fMRI study on cortical and brain stem activity.

Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci 2019 Aug;19(4):1094

Department of Psychology, University of Oslo, Postbox 1094, 0317, Oslo, Norway.

The article Task context load induces reactive cognitive control.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/s13415-019-00701-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6828377PMC
August 2019

Correction: Dose response of the 16p11.2 distal copy number variant on intracranial volume and basal ganglia.

Mol Psychiatry 2020 Mar;25(3):692-695

Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, Anzio Road, 7925, Cape Town, South Africa.

Prior to and following the publication of this article the authors noted that the complete list of authors was not included in the main article and was only present in Supplementary Table 1. The author list in the original article has now been updated to include all authors, and Supplementary Table 1 has been removed. All other supplementary files have now been updated accordingly. Furthermore, in Table 1 of this Article, the replication cohort for the row Close relative in data set, n (%) was incorrect. All values have now been corrected to 0(0%). The publishers would like to apologise for this error and the inconvenience it may have caused.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41380-019-0358-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7608381PMC
March 2020

Task context load induces reactive cognitive control: An fMRI study on cortical and brain stem activity.

Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci 2019 08;19(4):945-965

Department of Psychology, University of Oslo, Postbox 1094, 0317, Oslo, Norway.

Cognitive control is a highly dynamic process that relies on flexible engagement of prefrontal areas and of neuromodulatory systems in order to adapt to changing demands. A range of internal and external factors come into play when individuals engage in a task requiring cognitive control. Here we investigated whether increased working memory (WM) demands would induce a flexible change in cognitive control mode in young healthy individuals. We developed a novel variant of the well-known AX-continuous performance task (AX-CPT). We manipulated the cognitive demands of maintaining task-relevant contextual information and studied the impact of this manipulation on behavior and brain activity. We expected that low WM load would allow for a more effortful, proactive strategy, while high WM load would induce a strategy of less effortful, stimulus-driven reactive control. In line with our hypothesis, a web-based experiment revealed that increased load was associated with more reactive behavioral responses, and this finding was independently replicated in behavioral data acquired in the MRI scanner. The results from brain activity showed that the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex was activated by cues in the proactive mode and by probes in the reactive mode. The analysis of task-induced brain stem activity indicated that both the dopaminergic and noradrenergic systems are involved in updating context representations, and that, respectively, these systems mediate a gating signal to the control network and are involved in the dynamic regulation of task engagement.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/s13415-019-00691-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6711881PMC
August 2019

Unilateral neglect post stroke: Eye movement frequencies indicate directional hypokinesia while fixation distributions suggest compensational mechanism.

Brain Behav 2019 01 12;9(1):e01170. Epub 2018 Dec 12.

Department of Psychology, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.

Introduction: Eye movements and spatial attention are closely related, and eye-tracking can provide valuable information in research on visual attention. We investigated the pathology of overt attention in right hemisphere (RH) stroke patients differing in their severity of neglect symptoms by using eye-tracking during a dynamic attention task.

Methods: Eye movements were recorded in 26 RH stroke patients (13 with and 13 without unilateral spatial neglect, and a matched group of 26 healthy controls during a Multiple Object Tracking task. We assessed the frequency and spatial distributions of fixations, as well as frequencies of eye movements to the left and to the right side of visual space so as to investigate individuals' efficiency of visual processing, distribution of attentional processing resources, and oculomotoric orienting mechanisms.

Results: Both patient groups showed increased fixation frequencies compared to controls. A spatial bias was found in neglect patients' fixation distribution, depending on neglect severity (indexed by scores on the Behavioral Inattention Test). Patients with more severe neglect had more fixations within the right field, while patients with less severe neglect had more fixations within their left field. Eye movement frequencies were dependent on direction in the neglect patient group, as they made more eye movements toward the right than toward the left.

Conclusion: The patient groups' higher fixation rates suggest that patients are generally less efficient in visual processing. The spatial bias in fixation distribution, dependent on neglect severity, suggested that patients with less severe neglect were able to use compensational mechanisms in their contralesional space. The observed relation between eye movement rates and directions observed in neglect patients provides a measure of the degree of difficulty these patients may encounter during dynamic situations in daily life and supports the idea that directional oculomotor hypokinesia may be a relevant component in this syndrome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/brb3.1170DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6346647PMC
January 2019

Multiple object tracking and pupillometry reveal deficits in both selective and intensive attention in unilateral spatial neglect.

J Clin Exp Neuropsychol 2019 04 14;41(3):270-289. Epub 2018 Nov 14.

b Department of Psychology , University of Oslo , Oslo , Norway.

Introduction: Unilateral spatial neglect is typically associated with a spatial attention deficit, as neglect patients fail to respond to objects in their contralesional hemispace. However, growing evidence suggests that also nonspatial attention impairments (e.g., arousal) play a role and influences the recovery from this syndrome.

Method: Nonspatial and spatial attentional functions were assessed in 13 right-hemisphere stroke patients with neglect, 13 right-hemisphere stroke patients without neglect, and 26 healthy control participants, by investigating pupillary responses and performance on a multiple object tracking task (MOT)-that is, a dynamic task of divided attention where cognitive load can be manipulated precisely. The task was alternately presented in the left and right hemispace to assess spatial attention functioning.

Results: Results revealed smaller pupillary dilations in both patient groups than in controls, suggesting reduced attentional resources or arousal, and while patients without neglect and controls revealed significant effects of cognitive load on their pupillary responses, neglect patients did not. Both MOT and visual search (VS) tasks revealed spatial symptoms of neglect, while MOT performance measures additionally indicated reduced cognitive functioning in the ipsilateral hemispace. Moreover, the MOT task revealed severely reduced divided attention in neglect patients, as they only managed to track one target in the contralesional hemispace and occasionally two targets at the time in the ipsilesional hemispace.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that a stroke may lead to reduced attentional resources. Furthermore, as neglect patients showed no indications in their pupillary responses that they were able to regulate the allocation of resources in accordance with the varying task demands, it appears they additionally had impaired mechanisms for adjusting arousal levels. Our findings suggest that neglect involves nonspatial as well as spatial attention impairments, as also ipsilesional performance was reduced in this group.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13803395.2018.1536735DOI Listing
April 2019
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