Age-moderation of genetic and environmental contributions to cognitive functioning in mid- and late-life for specific cognitive abilities

Shandell Pahlen, Nayla R. Hamdi, Anna K. Dahl Aslan, Briana N. Horwitz, Matthew S. Panizzon, Inge Petersen, Catalina Zavala, Kaare Christensen, Deborah Finkel, Carol E. Franz, Margaret Gatz, Wendy Johnson, William S. Kremen, Robert Krueger, Jenae M. Neiderhiser, Chandra A. Reynolds, Nancy L. Pedersen, Matt Mc Gue

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Abstract

Age moderation of genetic and environmental contributions to Digits Forward, Digits Backward, Block Design, Symbol Digit, Vocabulary, and Synonyms was investigated in a sample of 14,534 twins aged 26 to 98 years. The Interplay of Genes and Environment across Multiple Studies (IGEMS) consortium contributed the sample, which represents nine studies from three countries (USA, Denmark, and Sweden). Average test performance was lower in successively older age groups for all tests. Significant age moderation of additive genetic, shared environmental, and non-shared environmental variance components was observed, but the pattern varied by test. The genetic contribution to phenotypic variance across age was smaller for both Digit Span tests, greater for Synonyms, and stable for Block Design and Symbol Digit. The non-shared environmental contribution was greater with age for the Digit Span tests and Block Design, while the shared environmental component was small for all tests, often more so with age. Vocabulary showed similar age-moderation patterns as Synonyms, but these effects were nonsignificant. Findings are discussed in the context of theories of cognitive aging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-81
Number of pages12
JournalIntelligence
Volume68
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2018

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Keywords

  • Adult development
  • Aging
  • Behavior genetics
  • Cognitive ability

Cite this

Pahlen, S., Hamdi, N. R., Dahl Aslan, A. K., Horwitz, B. N., Panizzon, M. S., Petersen, I., Zavala, C., Christensen, K., Finkel, D., Franz, C. E., Gatz, M., Johnson, W., Kremen, W. S., Krueger, R., Neiderhiser, J. M., Reynolds, C. A., Pedersen, N. L., & Mc Gue, M. (2018). Age-moderation of genetic and environmental contributions to cognitive functioning in mid- and late-life for specific cognitive abilities. Intelligence, 68, 70-81. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intell.2017.12.004