Studies in adults indicate that white matter microstructure, assessed with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), has high heritability. Little is known about genetic and environmental influences on DTI parameters, measured along fiber tracts particularly, in early childhood. In the present study, we report comprehensive heritability data of white matter microstructure fractional anisotropy (FA), radial diffusion (RD), and axial diffusion (AD) along 47 fiber tracts using the quantitative tractography in a large sample of neonatal twins (n=356). We found significant genetic influences in almost all tracts with similar heritabilities for FA, RD, and AD as well as positive relationships between these parameters and heritability. In a single tract analysis, genetic influences along the length of the tract were highly variable. These findings suggest that at birth, there is marked heterogeneity of genetic influences of white matter microstructure within white matter tracts. This study provides a basis for future studies of developmental changes in genetic and environmental influences during early childhood, a period of rapid development that likely plays a major role in individual differences in white matter structure and function.
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