The association between intelligence and lifespan is mostly genetic

Arden, Rosalind, Luciano, Michelle, Deary, Ian J., Reynolds, Chandra A., Pedersen, Nancy L., Plassman, Brenda L., McGue, Matt, Christensen, Kaare and Visscher, Peter M. (2015) The association between intelligence and lifespan is mostly genetic. International Journal of Epidemiology, 45 1: 178-185. doi:10.1093/ije/dyv112

Author Arden, Rosalind
Luciano, Michelle
Deary, Ian J.
Reynolds, Chandra A.
Pedersen, Nancy L.
Plassman, Brenda L.
McGue, Matt
Christensen, Kaare
Visscher, Peter M.
Title The association between intelligence and lifespan is mostly genetic
Journal name International Journal of Epidemiology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0300-5771
Publication date 2015-07-26
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1093/ije/dyv112
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 45
Issue 1
Start page 178
End page 185
Total pages 8
Place of publication Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Oxford University Press
Collection year 2016
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Background: Several studies in the new field of cognitive epidemiology have shown that higher intelligence predicts longer lifespan. This positive correlation might arise from socioeconomic status influencing both intelligence and health; intelligence leading to better health behaviours; and/or some shared genetic factors influencing both intelligence and health. Distinguishing among these hypotheses is crucial for medicine and public health, but can only be accomplished by studying a genetically informative sample.

Methods: We analysed data from three genetically informative samples containing information on intelligence and mortality: Sample 1, 377 pairs of male veterans from the NAS-NRC US World War II Twin Registry; Sample 2, 246 pairs of twins from the Swedish Twin Registry; and Sample 3, 784 pairs of twins from the Danish Twin Registry. The age at which intelligence was measured differed between the samples. We used three methods of genetic analysis to examine the relationship between intelligence and lifespan: we calculated the proportion of the more intelligent twins who outlived their co-twin; we regressed within-twin-pair lifespan differences on within-twin-pair intelligence differences; and we used the resulting regression coefficients to model the additive genetic covariance. We conducted a meta-analysis of the regression coefficients across the three samples.

Results: The combined (and all three individual samples) showed a small positive phenotypic correlation between intelligence and lifespan. In the combined sample observed r = .12 (95% confidence interval .06 to .18). The additive genetic covariance model supported a genetic relationship between intelligence and lifespan. In the combined sample the genetic contribution to the covariance was 95%; in the US study, 84%; in the Swedish study, 86%, and in the Danish study, 85%.

Conclusions: The finding of common genetic effects between lifespan and intelligence has important implications for public health, and for those interested in the genetics of intelligence, lifespan or inequalities in health outcomes including lifespan.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Queensland Brain Institute Publications
Official 2016 Collection
UQ Diamantina Institute Publications
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Created: Mon, 07 Dec 2015, 14:06:27 EST by Susan Day on behalf of UQ Diamantina Institute