Brain Structure, Height and Cognitive Ability Linked

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Eero Vuoksimaa PhD Institute for Molecular Medicine University of Helsinski Finland

Dr. Vuoksimaa

Dr. Eero Vuoksimaa PhD
Institute for Molecular Medicine
University of Helsinski
Finland

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There are many previous reports indicating a positive association between height and cognitive ability but the underlying mechanisms behind this correlation are not well known. We used a mediation model to test if this association is explained by brain size as measured with cortical grey matter size.

We found that total cortical surface mediated the relationship between height and cognitive ability.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: It should be noted that the association between height and cognitive ability is small in magnitude and it is not possible to estimate any given individuals cognitive ability based on persons height. Even though the height-cognitive ability association is small in magnitude our results provide a biological mechanism underlying the height-cognition association. It is brain structure rather than height that is associated with cognitive ability. In other words, our results suggest that cortical surface area is positively associated with cognitive ability when controlling for height, i.e., cortical size is positively associated with cognition in people with similar height whereas height is not associated with cognition in people with similar cortical size. Finally, the correlation between cortical size and cognitive ability is also small in magnitude and therefore it is not possible to estimate any given individuals cognitive ability based on size of cortex. 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Other studies could test if these results are replicated in other samples. With regard to cortical size, our results give further support to study both cortical surface area and cortical thickness, two cortical metrics that are uncorrelated at the global level. 

Citation: Eero Vuoksimaa, Matthew S. Panizzon, Carol E. Franz, Christine Fennema-Notestine, Donald J. Hagler, Michael J. Lyons, Anders M. Dale, William S. Kremen. Brain structure mediates the association between height and cognitive ability. Brain Structure and Function, 2018; DOI: 10.1007/s00429-018-1675-4

 

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