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The TWIN-E Project in Emotional Wellbeing: Study Protocol and Preliminary Heritability Results Across Four MRI and DTI Measures

  • Justine M. Gatt (a1) (a2), Mayuresh S. Korgaonkar (a1), Peter R. Schofield (a3) (a4), Anthony Harris (a1) (a2), C. Richard Clark (a5), Karen L. Oakley (a1) (a2), Kaushik Ram (a1) (a2), Hope Michaelson (a1), Sarsha Yap (a1), Melinda Stanners (a5), Vikki Wise (a5) and Leanne M. Williams (a1) (a2)...


Despite the significant advancements being made in the neurogenetics for mental health, the identification and validation of potential endophenotype markers of risk and resilience remain to be confirmed. The TWIN-E study (The Twin study in Wellbeing using Integrative Neuroscience of Emotion) aims to validate endophenotype markers of mental health across cognitive, brain, and autonomic measures by testing the heritability, clinical plausibility, and reliability of each of these measures in a large adult twin cohort. The specific gene and environmental mechanisms that moderate prospective links between endophenotype-phenotype markers and the final outcome of wellbeing will also be identified. TWIN-E is a national prospective study with three phases: I) baseline testing on a battery of online questionnaires and cognitive tasks, and EEG, MRI, and autonomic testing; II) 12-month follow-up testing on the online assessments; and III) randomized controlled trial of brain training. Minimum target numbers include 1,500 male/female twins (18–65 years) for the online assessments (Phase I and II), 300 twins for the EEG testing component, and 244 twins for the MRI testing component. For Phase III, each twin out of the pair will be randomized to either the treatment or waitlist control group to test the effects of brain training on mental health over a 30-day period, and to confirm the gene–environment and endophenotype contributions to treatment response. Preliminary heritability results are provided for the first 50% of the MRI subgroup (n = 142) for the grey matter volume, thickness, and surface area measures, and white matter diffuse tensor imaging fractional anisotropy.

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Corresponding author

address for correspondence: Dr Justine Gatt, Brain Dynamics Centre, Westmead Millennium Institute, University of Sydney Medical School-Westmead, Westmead Hospital, Westmead NSW 2145, Australia. E-mail:


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