Imaging Genetics and Genomics in Psychiatry: A Critical Review of Progress and Potential

Ryan Bogdan, Betty Jo Salmeron, Caitlin E. Carey, Arpana Agrawal, Vince D. Calhoun, Hugh Garavan, Ahmad R. Hariri, Andreas Heinz, Matthew N. Hill, Andrew Holmes, Ned H. Kalin, David Goldman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Imaging genetics and genomics research has begun to provide insight into the molecular and genetic architecture of neural phenotypes and the neural mechanisms through which genetic risk for psychopathology may emerge. As it approaches its third decade, imaging genetics is confronted by many challenges, including the proliferation of studies using small sample sizes and diverse designs, limited replication, problems with harmonization of neural phenotypes for meta-analysis, unclear mechanisms, and evidence that effect sizes may be more modest than originally posited, with increasing evidence of polygenicity. These concerns have encouraged the field to grow in many new directions, including the development of consortia and large-scale data collection projects and the use of novel methods (e.g., polygenic approaches, machine learning) that enhance the quality of imaging genetic studies but also introduce new challenges. We critically review progress in imaging genetics and offer suggestions and highlight potential pitfalls of novel approaches. Ultimately, the strength of imaging genetics and genomics lies in their translational and integrative potential with other research approaches (e.g., nonhuman animal models, psychiatric genetics, pharmacologic challenge) to elucidate brain-based pathways that give rise to the vast individual differences in behavior as well as risk for psychopathology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-175
Number of pages11
JournalBiological psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017


  • Candidate
  • Genetics
  • Genomics
  • Imaging
  • MRI
  • Neurogenetics
  • Polygenic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry

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