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Author Notes:

Seth M. Weinberg, 100 Technology Drive, Suite 500, Pittsburgh, PA 15219, USA, 1 (412) 648-8928. Email: smwst46@pitt.edu

Data used in the preparation of this article were obtained from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study (https://abcdstudy.org), held in the NIMH Data Archive (NDA). This is a multisite, longitudinal study designed to recruit more than 10,000 children age 9–10 and follow them over 10 years into early adulthood. The ABCD Study is supported by the National Institutes of Health and additional federal partners under award numbers U01DA041048, U01DA050989, U01DA051016, U01DA041022, U01DA051018, U01DA051037, U01DA050987, U01DA041174, U01DA041106, U01DA041117, U01DA041028, U01DA041134, U01DA050988, U01DA051039, U01DA041156, U01DA041025, U01DA041120, U01DA051038, U01DA041148, U01DA041093, U01DA041089, U24DA041123, U24DA041147. A full list of supporters is available at https://abcdstudy.org/federal-partners.html. A listing of participating sites and a complete listing of the study investigators can be found at https://abcdstudy.org/consortium_members/. ABCD consortium investigators designed and implemented the study and/or provided data but did not necessarily participate in analysis or writing of this report. This manuscript reflects the views of the authors and may not reflect the opinions or views of the NIH or ABCD consortium investigators.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.


Research Funding:

This work is supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.


  • Science & Technology
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Dentistry, Oral Surgery & Medicine
  • Surgery
  • genetics
  • structural equation modeling
  • uvula
  • soft palate
  • mRI

Heritability Analysis in Twins Indicates a Genetic Basis for Velopharyngeal Morphology


Journal Title:



Volume 59, Number 11


, Pages 1340-1345

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Objective : The velopharyngeal mechanism is comprised of several muscular components that act in a coordinated manner to control airflow through the nose and mouth. Proper velopharyngeal function is essential for normal speech, swallowing, and breathing. The genetic basis of normal-range velopharyngeal morphology is poorly understood. The purpose of this study was to estimate the heritability of velopharyngeal dimensions. Method : We measured five velopharyngeal variables (velar length, velar thickness, effective velar length, levator muscle length and pharyngeal depth) from MRIs of 155 monozygotic and 208 dizygotic twin pairs and then calculated heritability for these traits using a structural equation modeling approach. Results : The heritability estimates were statistically significant (95% confidence intervals excluded zero) and ranged from 0.19 to 0.46. There was also evidence of significant genetic correlations between pairs of traits, pointing to the influence of common genetic effects. Conclusions : These results indicate that genetic factors influence variation in clinically relevant velopharyngeal structures.
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