Background: Associations between well-being, resilience to trauma and the volume of grey-matter regions involved in affective processing (e.g., threat/reward circuits) are largely unexplored, as are the roles of shared genetic and environmental factors derived from multivariate twin modelling. Methods: This study presents, to our knowledge, the first exploration of well-being and volumes of grey-matter regions involved in affective processing using a region-of-interest, voxel-based approach in 263 healthy adult twins (60% monozygotic pairs, 61% females, mean age 39.69 yr). To examine patterns for resilience (i.e., positive adaptation following adversity), we evaluated associations between the same brain regions and well-being in a trauma-exposed subgroup. Results: We found a correlated effect between increased well-being and reduced grey-matter volume of the pontine nuclei. This association was strongest for individuals with higher resilience to trauma. Multivariate twin modelling suggested that the common variance between the pons volume and well-being scores was due to environmental factors. Limitations: We used a cross-sectional sample; results need to be replicated longitudinally and in a larger sample. Conclusion: Associations with altered grey matter of the pontine nuclei suggest that basic sensory processes, such as arousal, startle, memory consolidation and/or emotional conditioning, may have a role in well-being and resilience.
- grey-matter regions
- grey-matter volume