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Nature and Nurture: Brain Region-Specific Inheritance of Sleep Neurophysiology in Adolescence


Rusterholz, Thomas; Hamann, Christoph; Markovic, Andjela; Schmidt, Stefanie J; Achermann, Peter; Tarokh, Leila (2018). Nature and Nurture: Brain Region-Specific Inheritance of Sleep Neurophysiology in Adolescence. Journal of Neuroscience, 38(43):9275-9285.

Abstract

Sleep-specific oscillations of spindles and slow waves are generated through thalamocortical and corticocortical loops, respectively, and provide a unique opportunity to measure the integrity of these neuronal systems. Understanding the relative contribution of genetic factors to sleep oscillations is important for determining whether they constitute useful endophenotypes that mark vulnerability to psychiatric illness. Using high-density sleep EEG recordings in human adolescent twin pairs (n = 60; 28 females), we find that over posterior regions 80-90% of the variance in slow oscillations, slow wave, and spindle activity is due to genes. Surprisingly, slow (10-12 Hz) and fast (12-16 Hz) anterior spindle amplitude and σ power are largely driven by environmental factors shared among the twins. To our knowledge this is the first example of a neural phenotype that exhibits a strong influence of nature in one brain region, and nurture in another. Overall, our findings highlight the utility of the sleep EEG as a reliable and easy to measure endophenotype during adolescence. This measure may be used to measure disease risk in development before the onset of a psychiatric disorder; the location within the brain of deficits in sleep neurophysiology may suggest whether the ultimate cause is genetic or environmental.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Two cardinal oscillations of sleep, slow waves and sleep spindles, play an important role in the core functions of sleep including memory consolidation, synaptic plasticity, and the recuperative function of sleep. In this study, we use a behavioral genetics approach to examine the heritability of sleep neurophysiology using high-density EEG in a sample of early adolescent twins. Our findings reveal a strong influence of both environmental and genetic factors in shaping these oscillations, dependent on brain region. Thus, during a developmental period when brain structure and function is in flux, we find that the sleep EEG is among the most heritable of human traits over circumscribed brain regions.

Abstract

Sleep-specific oscillations of spindles and slow waves are generated through thalamocortical and corticocortical loops, respectively, and provide a unique opportunity to measure the integrity of these neuronal systems. Understanding the relative contribution of genetic factors to sleep oscillations is important for determining whether they constitute useful endophenotypes that mark vulnerability to psychiatric illness. Using high-density sleep EEG recordings in human adolescent twin pairs (n = 60; 28 females), we find that over posterior regions 80-90% of the variance in slow oscillations, slow wave, and spindle activity is due to genes. Surprisingly, slow (10-12 Hz) and fast (12-16 Hz) anterior spindle amplitude and σ power are largely driven by environmental factors shared among the twins. To our knowledge this is the first example of a neural phenotype that exhibits a strong influence of nature in one brain region, and nurture in another. Overall, our findings highlight the utility of the sleep EEG as a reliable and easy to measure endophenotype during adolescence. This measure may be used to measure disease risk in development before the onset of a psychiatric disorder; the location within the brain of deficits in sleep neurophysiology may suggest whether the ultimate cause is genetic or environmental.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Two cardinal oscillations of sleep, slow waves and sleep spindles, play an important role in the core functions of sleep including memory consolidation, synaptic plasticity, and the recuperative function of sleep. In this study, we use a behavioral genetics approach to examine the heritability of sleep neurophysiology using high-density EEG in a sample of early adolescent twins. Our findings reveal a strong influence of both environmental and genetic factors in shaping these oscillations, dependent on brain region. Thus, during a developmental period when brain structure and function is in flux, we find that the sleep EEG is among the most heritable of human traits over circumscribed brain regions.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology
07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology

04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics
04 Faculty of Medicine > The KEY Institute for Brain-Mind Research
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Uncontrolled Keywords:General Neuroscience
Language:English
Date:24 October 2018
Deposited On:07 Dec 2018 06:51
Last Modified:24 May 2019 00:00
Publisher:Society for Neuroscience
ISSN:0270-6474
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1523/jneurosci.0945-18.2018
Official URL:http://www.jneurosci.org/content/38/43/9275.long
PubMed ID:30249805

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