Genetic influences on cognitive functions in the elderly: A selective review of twin studies

Lee, Teresa, Henry, Julie D., Trollor, Julian N. and Sachdev, Perminder S. (2010) Genetic influences on cognitive functions in the elderly: A selective review of twin studies. Brain Research Reviews, 64 1: 1-13. doi:10.1016/j.brainresrev.2010.02.001

Author Lee, Teresa
Henry, Julie D.
Trollor, Julian N.
Sachdev, Perminder S.
Title Genetic influences on cognitive functions in the elderly: A selective review of twin studies
Journal name Brain Research Reviews   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0165-0173
Publication date 2010-09
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.brainresrev.2010.02.001
Volume 64
Issue 1
Start page 1
End page 13
Total pages 13
Place of publication Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Publisher Elsevier Science BV
Collection year 2011
Language eng
Formatted abstract
In this review, we examined the published reports on the heritability of cognitive functioning in old age. Twenty-four papers from five study centers, comprising of participants with a mean age of 65 years and above were examined. The comparability of findings from different studies was compromised by the use of different measures for the same cognitive domain, and with large scale twin studies in cognitive aging limited to a few Scandinavian countries. While the results from cross-sectional samples appear to lend support for the notion that heritability of cognitive functions decreases in the elderly, the findings are best considered inconclusive. Longitudinal reports show little evidence for genetic effects, but an increase in unique environmental influences on the rate of cognitive change as age increases. In relation to the two prominent theories of cognitive aging, the genetic influence on processing speed as a major contributor to cognitive aging has been indicated in three reports, whereas the genetic relationship between executive functions and other cognitive functions has not been explored. Only two studies have focused on sex difference and did not find sex-specific genetic influence in cognitive abilities. This review indicates that there are complex relationships between heritability, environmental influence, and cognitive functions in the elderly. It highlights the need for more research, with consistent and appropriate cognitive measures, with data obtained from larger and more geographically and culturally diverse twin samples.
© 2010 Elsevier B.V.
Keyword Heritability
Cognitive function
Processing speed
Executive function
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Non HERDC
School of Psychology Publications
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Created: Wed, 20 Apr 2011, 14:15:01 EST by Lucy O'Brien on behalf of School of Psychology