In the largest brain imaging study of risky behavior (in the drinking, smoking, driving, and sexual domains) to date, in a sample that is representative of the UK population (N=12,675), we identified robust negative associations between risky behavior, as well as its associated genetic disposition (estimated using a polygenic risk score), and grey matter volumes of distinct brain regions.
In a brain imaging study of approximately 40,000 participants from the UK’s Biobank cohort, we found that an assembly of brain regions known as the default network showed the most differences in cortical volume associated with loneliness. Lonely individuals displayed stronger functional communication in this network and greater microstructural integrity of the fornix pathway. Collectively this evidence suggests that loneliness may increase the frequency of reminiscence and imagination aimed at filling the social void.
How is socioeconomic status (SES) reflected in the anatomy of the human brain? Do the more deprived environments where low-SES people reside exact a toll on brain development and health? Or, do people with innately different brains drift downward in SES due to their lesser capabilities? These very different classes of explanation, called “social causation” and “social drift” respectively, have been the focus on intense debate in social science and policy circles. This work address, for the first time, the roles of innate and environmental contributions to SES differences in neuroanatomy, using an unprecedently large dataset that includes brain images, genetic data, and measures of the socioeconomic environment.
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