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"Genetic Ancestry" Can be Detected by MRI Brain Scans
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From a recent paper:

Evidence For Bias Of Genetic Ancestry In Resting State Functional MRI
Conference Paper · April 2019 with 232 Reads

Andre Altmann, University College London
Janaina Mourão-Miranda, University College London

Resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rsfMRI) is a popular imaging modality for mapping the functional connectivity of the brain. Rs-fMRI is, just like other neuroimaging modalities, subject to a series of technical and subject level biases that change the inferred connectivity pattern. In this work we predicted genetic ancestry from rs-fMRI connectivity data at very high performance (area under the ROC curve of 0.93). Thereby, we demonstrated that genetic ancestry is encoded in the functional connectivity pattern of the brain at rest. We hypothesize that these observed differences are a result of known ethnicity-related variations in head and brain morphology, which may be carried forward through the rs-fMRI processing pipeline, rather than true neuronal differences. In any case, genetic ancestry constitutes a bias that should be accounted for in the analysis of rs-fMRI data.

Good thing, as the WSJ feature writer informs us (below), “there is hardly any connection between genes and race” or that would suggest that Race Does not Not Exist.

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  1. TWS says:

    That can’t be right. You’re triggering me.


  3. dearieme says:

    I know that early work on MRI and psychology was pretty ropey. Have things advanced far enough that this should be taken seriously?

  4. res says:

    Does anyone have access to full text? I don’t see the paper on libgen or anywhere else. There is a figure at this site which gives an idea of the study population:

    Any idea why they label the edges rather than the vertices? I find that confusing. If I interpret the plot correctly, YRI (Yoruba) is the lower left and CEU (Utah whites) is the lower right. ASI is the top, and presumably Asian, but that is not a population in 1000 genomes (CEU and YRI are):

    The following bit is an interesting attempt to weasel out of the logical conclusions. I wonder how future research will turn out.

    We hypothesize that these observed differences are a result of known ethnicity-related variations in head and brain morphology, which may be carried forward through the rs-fMRI processing pipeline, rather than true neuronal differences.

    No true neuronal differences?

    • Replies: @Desiderius
    , @jim jones
    , @res
  5. songbird says:

    I thought racial brain differences according to MRI were more or less old news. And aren’t they misusing the term “ethnicity?” It is a word which implies greater resolution than I bet they have.

    Still, it would be pretty interesting if someone tried to quantify political differences among races based on scans.

  6. @res

    Same reason you label the X and Y axes on a graph. Clever way to squeeze three dimensions into two.

    • Replies: @res
  7. Race and ethnicity are overwhelmingly correlated with genetic ancestry in the United States. Recent, large-scale studies of ~11,000 cancer patients and ~202,000 military veterans found that individuals’ self-identified race/ethnicity showed 95.6% (cancer) and 99.5% (veterans) correspondence to genetic ancestry clusters.

    Yuan et al. (2018) Cancer Cell. 34: 549–560

    Fang et al. (2019) Am J Hum Genet. 105:763-772

  8. res says:

    But doing it like the graphic I showed means the labels on the edges are ambiguous. Does YRI apply to the lower left or top vertex? I guess they are unambiguous if you realize the text labels match the closest 0 and 1 labels (i.e. YRI is 0 at the top and 1 at the lower left). I did not notice that at first, but the smooth gradient on the left side of the bottom line made that being the black-white axis obvious.

    P.S. I understand Ternary plots. I have used them myself.
    Looking at that wiki page you can see both conventions in use:
    – Label the vertices.
    – Label the edges along with 0-100 markers.
    The graphic I showed is a form of the latter only showing the 0 and 1 extremes.

  9. jim jones says:

    It is on Sci Hub:

    • Replies: @res
  10. res says:
    @jim jones

    Thanks! I thought Libgen always indexed Sci-Hub. For this DOI it was necessary to do an explicit Sci-Hub search rather than just searching Libgen:

    The preprint is freely available using DOI 10.1101/440776

  11. @Redneck farmer

    aww, R.F., ya beat me to it . . .

  12. res says:

    ASI seems to refer to a combination of the CHB and JPT populations:

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