Genetic Influence on the Variance in P3 Amplitude and Latency
- Cite this article as:
- Wright, M.J., Hansell, N.K., Geffen, G.M. et al. Behav Genet (2001) 31: 555. doi:10.1023/A:1013393327704
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The P3(00) event-related potential (ERP) component is widely used as a measure of cognitive functioning and provides a sensitive electrophysiological index of the attentional and working memory demands of a task. This study investigated what proportion of the variance in the amplitude and latency of the P3, elicited in a delayed response working memory task, could be attributed to genetic factors. In 335 adolescent twin pairs and 48 siblings, the amplitude and latency of the P3 were examined at frontal, central, and parietal sites. Additive genetic factors accounted for 48% to 61% of the variance in P3 amplitude. Approximately one-third of the genetic variation at frontal sites was mediated by a common genetic factor that also influenced the genetic variation at parietal and central sites. Familial resemblance in P3 latency was due to genetic influence that accounted for 44% to 50% of the variance. Genetic covariance in P3 latency across sites was substantial, with a large part of the variance found at parietal, central, and frontal sites attributed to a common genetic factor. The findings provide further evidence that the P3 is a promising phenotype of neural activity of the brain and has the potential to be used in linkage and association analysis in the search for quantitative trait loci (QTLs) influencing cognition.