Morphometricity as a measure of the neuroanatomical signature of a trait

Sabuncu, Mert R.; Ge, Tian; Holmes, Avram J.; Smoller, Jordan W.; Buckner, Randy L.; Fischl, Bruce; Stern, Yaakov; Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative

Complex physiological and behavioral traits, including neurological and psychiatric disorders, often associate with distributed anatomical variation. This paper introduces a global metric, called morphometricity, as a measure of the anatomical signature of different traits. Morphometricity is defined as the proportion of phenotypic variation that can be explained by macroscopic brain morphology. We estimate morphometricity via a linear mixed-effects model that uses an anatomical similarity matrix computed based on measurements derived from structural brain MRI scans. We examined over 3,800 unique MRI scans from nine large-scale studies to estimate the morphometricity of a range of phenotypes, including clinical diagnoses such as Alzheimer’s disease, and nonclinical traits such as measures of cognition. Our results demonstrate that morphometricity can provide novel insights about the neuroanatomical correlates of a diverse set of traits, revealing associations that might not be detectable through traditional statistical techniques.



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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

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February 11, 2022