Genes determine stability and the environment determines change in cognitive ability during 35 years of adulthood

Michael J. Lyons, Timothy P. York, Carol E. Franz, Michael D. Grant, Lindon J. Eaves, Kristen C. Jacobson, K. Warner Schaie, Matthew S. Panizzon, Corwin Boake, Hong Xian, Rosemary Toomey, Seth A. Eisen, William S. Kremen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations

Abstract

Previous research has demonstrated stability of cognitive ability and marked heritability during adulthood, but questions remain about the extent to which genetic factors account for this stability. We conducted a 35-year longitudinal assessment of general cognitive ability using the Armed Forces Qualification Test administered to 7,232 male twins in early adulthood and readministered to a subset of 1,237 twins during late middle age. The proportion of variance in cognitive functioning explained by genetic factors was.49 in young adulthood and.57 in late middle age. The correlation between the two administrations was.74 with a genetic correlation of 1.0, indicating that the same genetic influences operated at both times. Genetic factors were primarily responsible for stability, and nonshared environmental factors were primarily responsible for change. The genetic factors influencing cognition may change across other eras, but the same genetic influences are operating from early adulthood to late middle age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1146-1152
Number of pages7
JournalPsychological Science
Volume20
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2009

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Genes determine stability and the environment determines change in cognitive ability during 35 years of adulthood'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this