Genes, environment, and time: The Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging (VETSA)

William S. Kremen, Heather Thompson-Brenner, Yat Ming J. Leung, Michael D. Grant, Carol E. Franz, Seth A. Eisen, Kristen C. Jacobson, Corwin Boake, Michael J. Lyons

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging (VETSA) is a large-scale investigation of cognitive aging from middle to later age. The intended sample of 1440 twin subjects is recruited from the Vietnam Era Twin Registry (VETR), a registry of middle-aged male-male twin pairs who both served in the military during the Vietnam conflict (1965-1975). VETSA employs a multitrait multimethod approach to cognitive assessment to focus on the genetic and environmental contributions to cognitive processes over time, as well as the relative contributions to cognitive aging from health, social, personality, and other contextual factors. The cognitive domains of episodic memory, working memory, abstract reasoning, and inhibitory executive functioning are assessed through neuropsychological testing. In addition, VETSA obtains the participant's score on the Armed Forces Qualification Test, taken at the time of induction into the military around age 20 years, and readministers the test. Two other projects - VETSA Cortisol and VETSA Magnetic Resonance Imaging - are also in progress using subsamples of the VETSA twins. Prior waves of data collection by VETSA investigators using the VETR have provided historical data on physical and mental health, while future waves of VETSA data collection are planned every 5 years. These methods will provide data on multiple phenotypes in the same individuals with regard to genetic and environmental contributions to cognitive functioning over time, personality and interpersonal risk and protective factors, stress and cortisol regulation, and structural brain correlates of aging processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1009-1022
Number of pages14
JournalTwin Research and Human Genetics
Volume9
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2006

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